Surgical Patients May Be Feeling Pain — and (Mostly) Forgetting It

If you were undergoing a surgery, would you rather have a very light anesthetic and experience pain but not remember it later, or would you simply prefer to be put “out?” If that sounds like a bizarre question, it’s a reality that’s been taking place in some surgical procedures. According to The Atlantic, the drugs used in this method can put you lightly to sleep, yet leave you capable of possibly feeling pain and even answering questions during the procedure. The advantages are that patients don’t need heavy anesthetics (which come with their own set of hazards); the disadvantage is that you possibly may be feel pain you don’t want to feel.

If you’re having trouble relating to this, you may not have had a colonoscopy, as this procedure is one that uses this type of “light” sedation, with most people neither feeling uncomfortable during the procedure nor even recalling it later. You’re not really totally “out,” but on the other hand you’re mostly oblivious to it. And while this underscores the need for you, as a patient, to always discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of the anesthesia you’re going to get if you’re having a surgical procedure, it also is a good time to bring up the side effects and drawbacks of a colonoscopy.

Colonoscopies are done to screen for colon cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. And despite the fact that there are three acceptable screening methods, it seems that colonoscopy always comes in first — with patients being the ones to choose the test even when they’re given the options. But before you become one of these patients, make sure your doctor explains all the possible side effects of a colonoscopy, which can include perforation of the colon, complications from the anesthesia and even false positives from the test itself — a problem that can lead to unnecessary drugs and treatments, as well as other side effects.

If you do decide to get a colonoscopy, be sure to ask the question many don’t know to ask, and that is: What do you use to clean your scopes? If your physician doesn’t answer peracetic acid, then choose a different facility, as the alternative, Cidex, does not properly sterilize the devices.

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