Many patients ask this question during initial consultation in the office. It’s a very relevant question, after all! The vast majority of people prefer they undergo some level of anesthesia during the colonoscopy. It is a rare request to be awake during colonoscopy.
With this in mind, the answer is: no, you are not awake during a colonoscopy. It is considered standard of care to provide some level of amnesia for the procedure. I typically utilize the experience of an anesthesiologist (with or without CRNA support) to ensure my patient is adequately sedated (comfortable) for the entirety of the procedure. The colonoscopy begins only after you are asleep.
How about after the colonoscopy?
The anesthesiologist will allow you to wake up once the colonoscopy is over. The most commonly utilized anesthesia allows for rapid recovery, or the time until you feel like yourself again. Recovery time varies from patient to patient, but this will range from approximately 5 to 20 minutes. The vast majority of patients are able to begin drinking fluids and eat later the same day! Prior to the procedure, I encourage you ask your anesthesiologist for details on any planned medications and your expected recovery time.
Photo by Benjamin Voros.