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  1. Limoges, Michele F. MSN, RN, ANP-C
  2. Rickabaugh, Barbara MS, RN


The expectation of pain is a statistically significant factor negatively affecting patient compliance with current screening flexible sigmoidoscopy recommendations. Numerous pain reduction modalities have been studied with limited success. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) has been used to treat pain of various origins. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the efficacy of TENS in reducing discomfort experienced during screening flexible sigmoidoscopy.


A double-blind study was conducted in which 90 subjects were randomized to receive TENS, sham TENS, or control (standard care). The same pulse frequency and intensity were used for all subjects in the TENS group. Subjects completed preprocedural and postprocedural questionnaires, and the endoscopist completed a postprocedural questionnaire. A slight, but statistically insignificant (p = .526) reduction in the mean pain score reported by the TENS group was noted when compared with the sham TENS and control groups (2.00, 2.27, and 2.23 respectively). In light of the fact that only one pulse frequency and intensity of the TENS intervention were used in this study, further study with this safe and cost-effective modality is warranted.