IV Sedation FAQs

Some surgical procedures can be accomplished using local anesthesia at the operative site and IV sedative hypnotics for the primary anesthetic. This type of combined local/sedation anesthesia is typically done for less invasive or less complicated surgeries. The role of your anesthesia provider in this scenario is to administer intravenous sedatives, monitor your breathing and vital signs, and to frequently monitor your response to the surgical procedure while assuring your safety. If necessary the anesthesia provider can quickly and seamlessly increase or “deepen” the anesthesia to approximate or attain a level of general anesthetic if necessary. By virtue of the modern medications available today patients can opt for sedation and approximate the same experience of a general anesthetic without the side effects associated with general anesthesia. IV sedation may not be indicated or sufficient for many surgical procedures or specific patient situations. Your anesthesia provider and surgeon will advise you as to the viability of this option relative to your specific case.

How does sedation differ from general anesthesia?

When you receive general anesthesia you are completely unaware and deeply unconscious throughout the entire surgical procedure.   Sedation is designed to be a lighter degree of anesthesia, such that patients wake up more quickly and also avoid many of the side effects associated with general anesthesia.   As such, while it is uncommon for patients to remember or to be aware of anything during their surgery, some sedation patients report awareness during surgery.  However, even when patients may have some degree of awareness in the operating room they do not feel pain, they are not anxious, nor are they able see the surgical site because of their supine position and surgical drapes covering the surgical field.   It is also easy for the anesthesia provider to quickly deepen your sedation as necessary to accommodate your comfort.

How long will my recovery be?

Each individual responds to, and recovers from anesthesia differently. However, relative to a general anesthesia, recovery from sedation is typically much faster and has substantially fewer side effects.

Will I be nauseated or vomit after surgery if I have sedation anesthesia?

Nausea and vomiting are exceptionally rare following sedation anesthesia, although they do occur sometimes.   Occasionally if narcotic medication is used for sedation in patients sensitive to this class of drugs they can experience nausea.   However, most of the anesthesia drugs used for sedation do not cause nausea or vomiting, and some actually have anti-nausea properties.

Will I be able to drive myself home after receiving IV sedation?

No, you will still need to arrange a ride after your procedure. Sedative medications can impair your ability drive safely for hours after their administration.   From a safety standpoint we ask that you plan in advance to have someone drive you home after your procedure.

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