Effect of conscious sedation on cardiac autonomic regulation during colonoscopy

M Ristikankare, R Julkunen, Tomi Laitinen, S X Wang, M Heikkinen, E Janatuinen, J Hartikainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Colonoscopy is associated with cardiovascular events including hypotension, hypertension, and myocardial ischemia. The pathogenetic mechanisms of these cardiovascular events are unknown, but there is evidence that the autonomic nervous system may play a role. Conscious sedation is often used to relieve the inconvenience caused by the procedure. In this study, we evaluated the effects of sedation on cardiac autonomic regulation during colonoscopy.

METHODS: One hundred and eighty patients undergoing elective colonoscopy were prospectively randomized into three groups: (i) sedation with intravenous midazolam (midazolam group); (ii) sedation with intravenous saline (placebo group); and (iii) no intravenous cannula (control group). Continuous electrocardiogram was recorded prior to, during, and after the colonoscopic procedure. Heart rate variability (HRV) was assessed by means of the power spectral analysis; the powers of low-frequency (LF 0.04-0.15 Hz) and high-frequency (HF 0.15-0.40 Hz) components were calculated.

RESULTS: Intubation of the colonoscope increased the LF component of HRV and decreased HF power in all study groups compared to baseline recording. Furthermore, compared to baseline, the LF/HF ratio--a marker of cardiac sympathetic regulation--increased during intubation in the midazolam (P < 0.001) and placebo (P < 0.05) groups, with no change in the control group. During intubation the midazolam group presented with higher LF and lower HF power than placebo (P < 0.001) and control groups (P < 0.01). Accordingly, the LF/HF ratio was higher in the midazolam group than in the placebo (P < 0.05) or control groups (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Midazolam potentiates the dominance of the sympathetic nervous system induced by colonoscopy. Therefore, conscious sedation with midazolam may contribute to the occurrence of cardiovascular events during colonoscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)990-6
Number of pages7
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2000


  • Colonoscopy
  • Conscious Sedation
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Male
  • Midazolam
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Premedication
  • Prospective Studies
  • Clinical Trial
  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial


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