Can the twilight drug I was given for a colonoscopy affect my memory over two years later?

5 answers | Last updated: Oct 10, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Can the twilight drug I was given for a colonoscopy affect my memory over two years later?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

The most common "twilight drug" given for colonoscopy is versed (midazolam). Versed is a short-acting benzodiazepine used as a sedative before invasive medical procedures. It has strong anti-anxiety, anti-seizure, and muscle relaxation properties. It also has a fast recovery time (around 2 to 6 hours), which is why it is used for outpatient procedures, as people quickly recover from its sedating effects.

In my experience, versed is a valuable medication and is usually very well tolerated by most patients. Very rarely, a patient can have a poor tolerance of the drug, and experience side effects like anxiety, chest pain, or nausea. However, since the drug wears off within a few hours, these reactions are very brief. There are some blogs out on the internet that talk about versed having long-term effects in some people (for more information look up "versedbusters" for more information in your search engine). However, I could not find any medical literature that has evidence of long-term effects from versed.

Since you complain of memory problems that have been going on for 2 years now, please let your health care provider know about your concerns. You may need to have a thorough test of your memory to make sure that everything is OK. There are many medical illnesses that can attribute to poor memory, and those would be much more likely to cause this problem than versed. Good Luck!

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

I am a nurse who had cataract surgery last year. They used Versed via an IV line when the procedure caused discomfort. It was the first time that I had a personal experience with this drug and I for one am grateful that it is available. No memory problems following its use.

A fellow caregiver answered...

As a provider, I have always thought that the Versed "horror stories" on askapatient were over the top..But when our own patients started to complain about the Versed sedation given for colonoscopy (long-term memory loss, PTSD, creepy amnesia and a overall terrible experience because of thie amnesia drug, I started to take notice. I still push routine oclonoscopy, but only if the patient can get propofol from an anesthesiologist or do the exam unsedated with painkiller only (I had one)..

Oldblackdog answered...

At my Dec.2011 colonoscopy, the Dr. explained that he used propofol as it worked well with instant recovery, without lingering side effects one would get from a "twilight" drug ( I didn't know the terminology but asked him about any option for having the test without being fully out). This was quite remarkable - instant out; seemingly instant awakening. ( I'm 65, in good health)

Bobc5 answered...

I felt confused for weeks after the twilight drug was used on me. Years later when I had a colonoscopy I refused the drugs because I did not want my brains to be scrambled again. After having the colonoscopy with out drugs I wondered why they were even suggested. The colonoscopy was no big deal.