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Gastrointest Endosc. 2002 Aug;56(2):190-4.

Minimizing postcolonoscopy abdominal pain by using CO(2) insufflation: a prospective, randomized, double blind, controlled trial evaluating a new commercially available CO(2) delivery system.

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McMaster University Medical Center, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



Abdominal pain after colonoscopy is a common, distressing symptom resulting from bowel distension by insufflated gas. CO(2), unlike air, is rapidly cleared from the colon by passive absorption. A commercially available CO(2) delivery system has only recently become available. The effects of CO(2) and air insufflation on residual bowel gas and postprocedure pain were compared.


One hundred patients were randomized to undergo colonoscopy with insufflation of air (n = 51) or CO(2) (n = 49) by means of a regulator; 97 patients completed the study. Patients with active GI bleeding, inflammatory bowel disease, or previous colectomy were excluded. Pain scores (ordinal scale: 0 = none, to 5 = extreme) were recorded immediately after colonoscopy and at 1, 6, and 24 hours. Residual colonic gas was evaluated on abdominal radiographs at 1 hour.


Residual colonic gas and postprocedural pain at 1 and 6 hours were significantly less in the CO(2) group. 71% of patients insufflated with room air had colonic distension in excess of 6 cm versus 4% for those in the CO(2) group. 94% of patients insufflated with CO(2) had minimal colonic gas versus 2% in whom air was used (p < 0.0001). Of patients insufflated with air, 45% and 31% had pain at, respectively, 1 hour and 6 hours, versus 7% and 9%, respectively, for those insufflated with CO(2) (respectively, p < 0.0001 and p < O.02). No complications resulted from use of the CO(2) delivery system.


Insufflation of CO(2) rather than air significantly reduces abdominal pain and bowel distension after colonoscopy. CO(2) may be insufflated safely and effectively with the new CO(2) delivery system.

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