Colonoscopy, gas and air or sedative - AF Association

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Colonoscopy, gas and air or sedative


I am to have a colonoscopy in April, as a follow-up to a CT scan and subsequent sigmoidoscopy and the removal of a 2cm benign polyp three years ago. I am wary of having sedation for 2 reasons: the effect of the drugs used on my existing ailments, and the practicality of my next of kin, who would need look after me after sedation, living 80 miles away. The alternative is gas and air (nitrous oxide) which is supposedly safe for AF patients.

Just a note that in the past seemingly safe drugs have been rejected by my body. Rivaroxaban appeared to trigger the auto-immune condition of Polymyalgia Rheumatica, a beta blocker triggered chronic urticaria, bisphosphonates caused loss of strength in my leg muscles.

Currently I have asymptomatic permanent atrial fibrillation, chronic asthma - mainly controlled by inhalers, lymphoedema in my lower legs - I wear compression socks when not in bed, enlarged prostate, and chronic urticaria. I know I ought to walk more. I lead a normal life, aged 73.

Has anyone any experience of having a colonoscopy with gas and air please?

14 Replies

I have a friend who opted to have nothing at all, which was totally amazing as she usually makes a big fuss about everything and couldn't cope with having an MRI scan. It was no big deal for her!

It would be for me I'd want the strongest sedation. When asked if I want any I always answer, yes lots!


I’ve had a couple of colonoscopies and since I want to drive home I have never had sedation. To be honest, it wasn’t such a big deal. In fact I think they were more careful because I wasn’t sedated.


I have had at least four Colonoscopy procedures without any of either of your choices - purely because I was not offered them, including the removal of a polyp. I can't imagine either sedation - no one is ever knocked out totally to my knowledge - would be dangerous. You only need someone to keep you safe is if you have sedation and even then just for the remains of the day in question and does not have to be a relative.

Thanks. It would have to be a relative in my case if I had sedation, as there isn't anyone else locally who I could ask. I am concerned that although many thousands of people people take sedation without problems, due to my body's immune system I wouldn't. However your answer reassures me that it's okay to have a colonoscopy with just gas and air, or nothing. Thanks.

bantam12 in reply to Thomas45

I have had many colonoscopies and would never ever ever attempt one without sedation, it can be extremely painful even with sedation !

Good luck.

Thomas45 in reply to bantam12

Thanks. I had it yesterday. I opted for gas and air if needed. As it happens I didn't need it. Really interesting seeing the procedure on screen.

I had a virtual colonoscopy (pumped full of gas and scanned) without sedation. They said it might affect my AF which I had had before my ablation. It wasn't a problem and I could drive off straight afterwards without having to hang around.

Hi, I had one last year.

I decided to have nothing at all, the Doctor couldn't guarantee that AF wouldn't be triggered, gas and air was available should i need it.

He promised to be gentle!!

There really wasn't any pain, just odd sensations when he had to move stuff out of the way or get around a corner.

There was a trainee there too that had a go, but when she started to make a hash of things he took over.

Was interesting to see a view of my insides.

Several biopsies taken, but did not feel them.

I was rather distracted by the good looking nurse that held my hand and kept me calm throughout.

It was nice being able to just get dressed and go home and not have to wait several hours to get over the sedation

Thomas45 in reply to Mikee69

Thanks. I feel much happier now to just have as and air. Like you I do wonder about the effect of the sedative. When I had my appendix out under general anaesthetic my heart rate shot up to over 200 bpm.

Mikee69 in reply to Thomas45

Happy to help.

I didn't use the gas and air at any stage, it really wasn't that bad

Thomas45 in reply to Mikee69

Had my colonoscopy yesterday. I decided on no sedation. Gas and air was available but I didn't need it. The worse part was the bland diet for the last 3 days before it, and the laxative. The procedure was okay, a little uncomfortable at times, but that's all. As it was a diagnostic colonoscopy I was told not to stop Warfarin. They found 4 polyps, so I will need another colonoscopy so they can remove them. I will have to come off Warfarin a week before.

Mikee69 in reply to Thomas45

Brilliant, glad it's done and you managed without sedation.

I really think the thought of the procedure is far worse than the reality.

And yes, the prep is far worse!

Hi Thomas,

firstly congratulations on your good health at 73 .

I am a registered respiratory therapist practicing in Canada.

On the topic of Nitrous Oxide (N2O),it is one of the safest inhalation anaesthetic you can have.It is used in the delivery and birthing rooms for moms during labour because it is effective in crossing the blood brain barrier.More importantly, it leaves the body quickly via the lungs so the effects are short lived.There are no side effects from this gas only a slight euphoria (laughing gas).

I am hoping that they would offer me this choice for my upcoming Colonoscopy and endoscopy in May.

Good luck my friend and God Bless.

My hospital only offers sedation or any kind of help if you're under 16 years old...I have a colonoscopy every three years with nothing...It's very uncomfortable but i wouldn't say it's very painful....It's maybe the thought of it more than the feel...I always think the worse bit is the prep the two days before the actual procedure.

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