Endoscopy terror: Hi everyone I just had... - British Liver Trust

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Endoscopy terror

Violet74 profile image

Hi everyone I just had a phone call to say that I have to attend hospital for an endoscopy this has been pending for about a year because of COVID. I am terrified

I have a phobia about my throat I can't even go to the dentist because of it. Also the sedation doesn't work for me tried it with other treatments.

Don't know what to do or where to turn has anyone ever been given a general for this procedure?

Thanks in advance

39 Replies

Have you flagged this with your consultant? My hubby had real trouble at a number of endoscopies really due to his gag reflex .......... consultant said he has the most sensitive throat in Scotland. After two failed endoscopies we wrote and asked about a GA for the procedure but were told it wasn't possible because they would need an anaesthetist and an operating theatre to do the procedure plus it made things more difficult because it would mean having both a breathing tube plus the endscopy camera passed down your throat at the same time. (I have though heard of other folks having it under a GA).

Unfortunately sedation doesn't work if you are really panicked already, it takes a much better effect the more relaxed you can be. My hubby has had well over 20 endoscopies and 42 varices banded and he eventually managed to get on 'ok' with them though the thought of each next appointment fills him with dread.

At Edinburgh he was advised that if you hold your breath when the throat spray is applied it doesnt' trigger your gag reflex. Hubby has the throat spray and then the sedation which knocks him out quite well. Make sure you tell the endoscopy department and your consultant (IN ADVANCE) of your issues and they can ensure the correct degree of care is available. Medazolam and Fentanyl seems to do the trick for my hubby.


Hi Violet, I have had this procedure 3 times under sedation and I can honestly say after being terrified like yourself it turned out to be stress and pain free, I don't know if you can have a general, I would discuss it with the department before attending, please try not to worry, I wish you well.

Take care


Trust1 profile image


If you are in the UK would you like to call our nurse helpline.

Mon to Fri 10am to 3pm 0800 652 7330.

We would be happy to chat through any concerns.

Best wishes.

I let them know ahead of time and they put me fully out for the oroced

Procedure 🙄

It is standard in the US to administer light sedation during the endoscopy procedure, as the whole thing takes literally minutes. It is my understanding that you can request sedation beforehand with your doctor's approval. The pre-op preparations and the recovery time (<15 minutes) take longer than the endoscopy. I don't know the particular drugs, and am surprised that some seem to know, but maybe l don't ask enough questions.

AyrshireK profile image
AyrshireK in reply to Bootandall

The sedation details including amount administered and even the endoscopy tool number are detailed on the print out of the endoscopy report my hubby gets from Edinburgh. Also details main endoscopist, names of assistants and more.

Hi lovely 😊

I have had it done 4 times, once with no sedative, just a throat spray.... that wasn't jolly, however I can honestly say, I knew nothing about the others because of the sedation. If you can manage the plastic guard, (which is no where near your throat, just biting on a plastic bit) you're sedated before you know it.

Some of the sedaituves used can be Midazolam, Fentanyl, Propofol They used two with me, but I can't remember which ..see it does work! 🙂

I panic too in regards of my throat, but the sedative will be enough you don't know what's happening at all. Then you come round, wait 10 minutes or so, they check your obs' and then have a coffee, tea, water and make the most of some biscuits (because you have to fast before).

Be brave, it's no where near as bad as it sounds, the one you need to worry about is the other end 🤪....I'm just trying to lighten things for you, You will be fine 💕try to do good slow breathing to stay calm prior. Tell yourself it will be over soon, it's not lasting forever and that you won't know about it.... because you don't xXx

Cobwebs profile image
Cobwebs in reply to Kji378

My neighbour had one without sedation. She didn’t say it wasn’t jolly. Used much more fruity language!

Kji378 profile image
Kji378 in reply to Cobwebs

Hi Cobwebs 🙂Your neighbour was right!!However, I did not want to use any unpleasant words, or anything that might add any extra trauma for this poor persons (who is obviously scared stiff) peace of mind. Let's hope they had or are having sedation. I know what you mean...😉...perhaps not a good time to exercise 'fruity language' or any OMG reactions that would cause extra upset?

Take good care 😊

No one can be worse than me. I had my stomach pumped when I was 6 as I needed an urgent anaesthetic and I’ve been hopeless ever since I have a real phobia about anything like that BUT I got through an endoscopy with Midazolam and Fentanyl. I was ‘wide awake’ talking etc but I had absolutely no fear. I felt on top of the world after and said to the nurse ‘I can’t believe I did that’! If I can anyone can x

I have had this done and I am the biggest wimp. honestly if you have the sedation and throat spray you wont feel or remember anything it takes a few minutes, when you wake up it’s all over and you can go home shortly after Lorraine

I have one once a year. Each time I'm sedated and don't feel a thing. In fact I look forward to the lovely sleep! I'm in Australia though so it may be different overseas. Check if you are able to have it done under sedation . You don't need anymore stress.

Fuzinez profile image
Fuzinez in reply to Krista1

I thought I was the only one who actually "enjoyed" the sleep! 😊

JennerLayne profile image
JennerLayne in reply to Fuzinez

Me too! I’ve always had sedation and remember only the before and after. 😃

This has always been one of my Phobias too along with my wife who was in hospital last year, as soon as the consultant mentioned she was to have a gastroscopy she went into panic mode. However, after us both mentioning our fears to the consultant with him and the nurses explaining its not as bad as it used to be with the modern techniques they use now. My wife ended up having several scopes during her stay in hospital and although I still feel apprehensive myself she says it all works out fine in the end and doesn't bother her at all now, it is no where near as bad as first feared .Try to relax during the spray to the throat after which my wife says you will be fine. We both wish you well.

Hey I had an endoscopy last Friday which was my fourth, the last being around 8 years ago

The sedation always works with me but have had varying degrees of sedation

Last Friday was propofol, I went out for around 20 mins (the actually procedure took 8mins)

I came too and didn’t even know they had done it !

More importantly I got diagnosed with a hiatel hernia and gastritis so am on the way to realising what’s been making me feel so bad for months

Don’t worry, talk it through with your doctor

Hi Violet. I was terrified having this procedure also and had been told horror stories. The sedation are different for this procedure and I honestly didn’t feel a thing. I don’t even remember it. Overthinking increases your anxiety but honestly, they look after you. Good luck

Hi. I am like you, my biggest fear is the dentist. Had the procedure last week with sedation but not the throat spray. The sedation didn’t touch me but the procedure was not as bad as I expected. A friend gave me some advice and it worked for me, just concentrate on breathing through your nose and keep thinking “ it will be over soon”, and it is! I had a colonoscopy without sedation as I was driving home and even that wasn’t too bad. The thought of it is worse than the actual event. Good luck.

I think it’s the natural fear of something going to choke you but in reality it’s not as bad as you would imagine. I had it done with out any sedation ( long story) and it was a bit unpleasant and I gagged but it wasn’t too bad. Other patients in the recovery room said they never felt a thing. Talk to the staff about your fears they will help and good luck trust me it’s not to bad at all.

Hi Violet , I like you had to have endoscopy that I avoided .Eventually I agreed with my consultant that we needed to know if I had any varices .

I was a quivering mess as I can gag while brushing my teeth.

The consultant suggested a nasal endoscopy .

On the day of the procedure , I was distraught!,,

When I was seen b y the doctor caring out the procedure he recognised how frightened I was , and tried to reassure me , he reminded me that it wasn’t compulsory and that ultimately it was up to me .

I went ahead with the procedure ..had a nasal spray and sedation , I have no recollection of the procedure except a bit of a snotty cough as the scope was removed . All over within 10 minutes.

They did find varices and now I’m on life long beta blockers .

I was told that the endoscopy should be repeated every few years but it’s up to me .The clinician can only suggest and advise ultimately it’s up to the patent .

I know that everyone has their concerns and fears about this procedure ,but I strongly suggest to share your anxiety with the endoscopy team looking after you on the day .

Good luck x

Hi, I can assure you that nobody can be more terrified of endoscopy than me, yet I've had loads. I know it's hard but try to relax as the sedation works better, I've always had more sedation than is normal because all the consultants that have done mine know me, last time they added fentanl. I have had one under general but it was an emergency in the middle of the night due to a massive bleed and I ended up in ICU.When you go explain your fears they will understand. And as for gagging I've been sick over a doctor for putting a tongue depresser in my mouth.

Close your eyes, think nice thoughts, it will be over in minutes and you will know nothing about it


I too had the same fear and would have rather given birth than have an endoscopy. The last time i had one though i had sedation and it really wasnt as bad as all the others i have had,. With all the drugs available now i am sure there is no need for pain in this procedure.

I told them that I get violent and hit people if I panic.They doubled the sedation dose😜

Was high as a kite (think 10 vodkas) for about 4 hours though.

I found it a breeze,no sedation,in and out!! Dr said I was a good patient!! I can only begin to imagine the performances they have to deal with it!!

Violet74 profile image
Violet74 in reply to deanw41

My hero 🙄

It the though of it that is making you hysterical!! It really isn’t a big deal!! Fall in love with the procedure,invite it,knowing it’s going to help potentially preserve your life. How lucky are we to have this technology at our disposal for free. Have courage.

I totally understand your feelings on this. I’ve had two and was awake for the first one, the sedative didn’t work. Possibly because I was completely terrified and in an all out panic.

BUT, I told them this before my second one and I think they increased the sedative because I was out instantly and didn’t even know they did it. The only downside the second time is I slept and was groggy the rest of the day. I think as others have said, if you tell them in advance they can manage you better. My Dr in the US said they’ve also changed the procedure and now include an anesthesiologist to be present to get the sedative right. That’s comforting.

One last tip - even if you’re awake for this and it’s not fun, the sedative will still be in you because it’s over quick. If you can go to sleep immediately after, it might be possible that your memory of it gets completely wiped. So then it’s like you actually weren’t awake anyway, like it never happened. I hope this helps! It is scary for many of us but you’ve got this!

I haven't heard general anesthetic for endoscopy. I had endoscopy and colonoscopy yesterday. I didn't want any sedation. the endoscopy I had was with throat spray only even I asked them not to spray too much. The procedure took may be 5 minutes or a bit less. Just try to be relax and direct your mind somewhere else. For colonoscopy I had painkiller and buscopan injections I was uncomfortable, may be I asked too late for painkiller (in middle of procedure). next time probably sedation! Good luck

I totally understand your fear. Ive had two endoscopies, both with sedation and one with throat spray as well (which was awful as i went into full panic as couldnt swallow so they had to rush to get the sedation into me asap). I woke up during both procedures and was gagging, I could feel the tube in my throat and it was turely awful. The second one without the throat spray was worse, so not sure if having the throat spray actually made it slightly better (once you get over the panic). I said to the GI afterwards and he said they can give sedation plus something else so ive to get another one in a couple of months so will take whatever they can give me. The only thing I would say that other than being a bit dozy immediately afterwards and a bit of a sensitive throat for a couple of days, I was totally fine afterwards and actually ended up stacking hay for the rest of the day after my scope (i know you are meant to take it easy but the hay needed brought in before the rain!) I wont look forward to the next one but like everyoe else has said, its over really quickly. Good luck and let us know how you get on x

Hi violet74 , I had the procedure done this morning and I can honestly say it was nowhere near as bad as I expected, I think the worst part was the taste of the spray that they used for the throat, just relax ,listen to the staff and you’ll be fine,also had 4 biopsy’s done,didn’t feel a thing .good luck

Violet74 profile image
Violet74 in reply to tomgill

Thank you ♥️

I was

Hi violet! I had one last week without any sedation 😳 I thought I was being brave! Ask for sedation and relay your fears it honestly isn’t that bad and it all over pretty quickly xx

Hi,I am newly diagnosed with AIH have had loads of tests and scans since January. Had a liver biopsy 3 weeks ago and felt it really sore but was then given more local anesthetic as I take codeine all the time and when codeine it's the liver it turns to morphine so you need more anesthetic. I did not know this.I had an endoscopy yesterday in Edinburgh Royal and was told to tell the doctor this.I was terrified to get this done because of my experience 3 weeks ago.The last thing I remember was getting told to take a deep breath in.I don't have a good gag reflex either,struggled more with my covid test.Hope this maybe helps you a bit.x

Violet74 profile image
Violet74 in reply to ANU64

Thanks really appreciate it. That biopsy sounds horrible x

I'm glad you are getting a lot of replies here!

I have had NASH-induced cirrhosis for 12 years and I get endoscopies regularly. I have had a life-threatening experience with ruptured varices, and have repeatedly had my varices banded during endoscopy.

Most of my endoscopies were done under Propofol sedation, and were really not bad at all. I also underwent an endoscopy and varices banding while conscious, with 100 micrograms of Fentanyl as a painkiller for the varices banding and a diazepam drug (Midazolam, maybe) to keep me calm. That procedure was also fine -- I felt really good, actually.

I really can't count the number of endoscopies I've had, but I have experienced only two problems. Once, I was given Propofol with no lidocaine. The injection site burned some, so I've asked for lidocaine (and always gotten it when I have propofol) ever since. Also, the varices themselves can hurt some after the procedure, as they scar over. But I had a *lot* of varices (at one point, I had 13 banded in a single endoscopy) and the varices were very severe (grade 4, the worst grade.) It's not clear from your post whether you have varices at all.

Overall, I consider endoscopies really minor procedures. The part I dislike the most is the IV being inserted -- I've had IVs inserted for all sorts of things, and never like them.

I am in the U.S., and propofol sedation seems to be the norm here. I would ask in advance whether you will be sedated. But, even talking and fully conscious, I found endoscopy to be really easy.

I wasn’t at all keen but the hospital was brilliant. They explained that general anaesthetic is too dangerous. Sedation worked well although you can’t drive afterwards for a few hours. I’ve had four now and it is important to know what is happening with your health. Trust in the hospital, they know what they are doing. I was told I could take low dose diazepam before the procedure. Not at all sure if it helped! You can do this. xx Deb

Kji378 profile image
Kji378 in reply to Cobwebs

I also had low dose Diazepam prior and then with Sedation...forgot that option. 😊

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