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  1. Devitt, Joan BSN, CGRN
  2. Shellman, Lorraine RN
  3. Gardner, Kathryn EdD, RN
  4. Nichols, Lynn Wemett PhD, RN


Nurses are taught to place patients on their left-side postcolonoscopy to facilitate passing of flatus and relief of bloating, but there was no research evidence found to substantiate the use of that position. This study's purpose was to determine which position (left lateral, right lateral, or supine) was the most effective to encourage passing the insufflated room air and provide patient comfort after a colonoscopy. Sequential selection was used to assign one of three positions (168-174 patients per position) to 512 postcolonoscopy patients. Immediately following the procedure, the nurse placed the patient in the selected position. The patient's position, pain, bloating, vital signs, and passage of flatus were assessed every 15 minutes. A numerical rating scale of 1-10 was used to assess abdominal pain and bloating. Significant differences indicate that after colonoscopy, left lateral was the optimal position for facilitating passage of flatus and relieving bloating. The patients who were placed on their left side passed air more quickly than the patients in the other positions. The data show that after 30 minutes, most patients, regardless of which position they were in, passed the insufflated room air and were comfortable.