More People Getting Anesthesia During Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is one of the diagnostic tools recommended to screen for colorectal cancer in those who have reached the age of 50, or even at an earlier age when there is a known family history of this dreaded cancer. Regular colonoscopies typically do not involve sedation during the procedure. However, researchers have noticed that between 2003 and 2009, anaesthesiologist services have increased during the course of colonoscopy screenings. The report was covered by the March 21 publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.  It was revealed that the anesthesia requests were made by those less prone to colorectal cancer and that there were differences from region to region. There is now a concern whether such element is really needed.

Patients who want to be sedated during colonoscopy will have to spend more since current guidelines require a nurse to assist administration of the sedation agent and the sedation part of the procedure is to be another component in the fees. 

It was also reported that those in the Northeastern states have more requests for anesthesia.  Those on the Western states only garnered 13% of the total requests for the added service.  Others have said that sedatives alone would be fine during the colonoscopy or endoscopy process.

Medical insurance companies are shying away from paying anesthesia costs for routine colonoscopy.  An additional cost of $150 is added for those who are under Medicare. For those who have private insurance, the cost is about $508. Some hospitals and clinics do not even ask the patient if they want to be put under anesthesia.  The “twilight sleep” using sedatives is also applied to patients during colonoscopy.  With a “twilight sleep” the patient will not feel any discomfort or pain and will not be able to remember the process. 

Doctors also noticed that when patients are told that they do not need anesthesia, some will not go through the colonoscopy. This is quite a disadvantage for the prevention and early treatment of colon cancer and other abnormalities. 

Hangsheng Liu, Ph.D., of the RAND Corporation, Boston, and Associates, took the effort to analyze data regarding the use of anesthesia for colonoscopy. The insurance claims data for those who have Medicare showed that 26.6% of the 1.1M had anesthesia services as part of their claim. 28.6% of the 5.5M of those who have private medical insurance claimed the same service over the period 2003 and 2009.

The data analysis also showed that majority of the anesthesia claims were made by people who were at a lesser risk of developing colon cancer.  For anesthesia to be administered during colonoscopy is purely an option of the patient since other methods with lesser costs can be applied like sedatives.

Concern about the issue has been raised due to the fact that awareness of colorectal cancer deaths and the availability of medical facilities having colonoscopy capability is said to increase in the next couple of years.  An increased awareness of the threat from undetected precancerous polyps has increased rapidly and more individuals will undergo screening.  Contact a colonoscopy doctor if you have any medical questions about receiving anesthesia sedation during a colonoscopy.