belly pain after colonoscopy

Belly pain after colonoscopy is uncommon. When it happens, it can be due to many reasons.

What causes belly pain during colonoscopy

  • Less experienced physician.
  • Type of sedation used. Patients feel less pain when propofol is used compared to IV sedation with fentanyl and versed.  Patients without sedation feel more pain compared to IV sedation. An experienced physician may do colonoscopy with little or no sedation.
  • Type of air used to insufflate the colon. During colonoscopy, air is introduced into the colon to distend it and make it easier to see polyps. Using carbon dioxide (C02) for insufflation causes less pain than room air. C02 is absorbed across the intestine faster than room air.
  • Low body weight. Patients with low body weight are more likely to have belly pain during colonoscopy than normal or overweight patients.
  • Patient’s anticipation of pain level. Patients that have a high expectation of pain during colonoscopy actually experience more pain.
  • Poor bowel preparation. Patients with poor bowel prep are more likely to have prolonged colonoscopy. Prolonged procedure may cause belly pain.

What causes belly pain after colonoscopy

  • Gas
  • Complications of colonoscopy like perforation, injury to the spleen, appendicitis, post-polypectomy electrocoagulation syndrome. Post polypectomy syndrome is caused by electrocoagulation injury to the wall and muscle of the colon.

How to prevent belly pain during colonoscopy

  • Get colonoscopy from an experienced physician.
  • Do not anticipate belly pain during colonoscopy.
  • Ask for C02 instead of room air during colonoscopy.
  • Make sure you have a good bowel prep for colonoscopy.

How to treat belly pain after colonoscopy

  • Release gas. Please, fart away!
  • If you have persistent abdominal pain or cramps or if your pain is getting worse, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Further reading:

How to spot a complication after colonoscopy.

Why People Hate Colonoscopy and What to do about It.

Bowel Prep and Colonoscopy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)