Water Immersion Colonoscopy Technique - A Caregiving Imperative

When gastroenterologists approach patients with recommendations for preventative, periodic, or diagnostic colonoscopy, they are oftentimes met with less-than-intrepid responses. Though considered a critically important medical evolution by general practitioners and specialists alike, colonoscopy has a reputation for inducing discomfort, pain, bloat, and other unpleasant physical outcomes. Even when wellness benefits are thoroughly explained and understood, the prospect of inflating ones' intestines like a balloon tends to promote feelings of dread and revulsion. Given this propensity, the desired effect from the physician's perspective can differ greatly from prospective recipients' proclivities, even though both have the same goal in mind. Physicians seek the most comprehensive preventative and diagnostic colon care while patients seek the least intrusive, most comfortable, and least impactful procedure possible. Though seemingly diametrically opposed, colonoscopy caregiver and recipient aspirations can converge when the Water Immersion Technique is effectively utilized.

A welcomed departure from formerly normative - though inherently non-patient centric - colonoscopy procedures, Water Immersion Technique (WIT) incorporates a small amount of water instead of air during the intubation process. The use of water provides a minimally-invasive patient experience, as sedation is generally not required, since WIT requires shorter intubation times and the colon is not painfully elongated or inflated as it would be if filled with air. After the WIT procedure, gradual natural excretion of water minimizes discomfort and feels familiar, unlike the unfamiliar expansion and expulsion sensation associated with a traditional air insufflation colonoscopy. Given the patient-focused and nearly asymptomatic nature of WIT, patients will most assuredly spread the word among prospective WIT recipients via social media, other communication outlets, and, most effectively, by word-of-mouth. This will promote greater health consciousness and help quell any fear, trepidation, or negative perceptions people may have.

This manual will provide an overview of Water Immersion Technique (WIT) advantages, a brief WIT history suitable for patient and provider/assistant/colleague teaching moments, and an inclusive "how to" for WIT practitioners. Ultimately, physicians properly utilizing this manual and honing WIT techniques will build trust, show respect for patients and their well-being, and provide empathetic patient-centric and increasingly successful WIT evolutions. As WIT innovation becomes commonplace, misconceptions, skepticism, care avoidance, and any stigma associated with colonoscopy procedures will dramatically diminish among the masses. A prevailing positive light shed on this crucial life-giving procedure will create more opportunities for physicians to properly diagnose or prevent serious medical problems. Proper utilization of this manual by compassionate caregivers will be the driving force behind this colonoscopy revolution and, in turn, save countless lives.