Rebecca J. Stahl, MA
Moderate sedation is used during surgery. It will put you in a comfortable, sleepy, and pain-free state. Moderate sedation is different from general anesthesia because it does not require breathing support. It will also be easy to arouse you, so you can respond to questions or commands during surgery.
Moderate sedation can be used for a range of procedures. If your overall health is poor, your doctor may recommend this type of sedation instead of general anesthesia.
The potential benefits include:
Also, moderate sedation does not require you to be connected to a ventilator.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase the risk of problems include:
You will meet with an anesthesiologist who will evaluate you and ask about:
You may be instructed to:
The anesthetic drugs and other medications will be delivered by an IV in your arm. The doctor may also use local anesthesia at the surgery site.
You will be carefully monitored during the surgery. Your medications may need to be adjusted to keep a certain level of sedation. The goal will be to make sure you are comfortable and pain-free.
Your sedation may be increased so that you are fully asleep. If this is the case, a ventilator will be used to support your breathing.
The hospital staff will monitor your vital signs.
You will not have any pain during the surgery.
The length of your stay will depend on the reason you had surgery. You may be able to go home the same day as the procedure. However, you may need to stay a few nights.
If you are discharged on the same day as the surgery, do not drive or operate machinery. The medications can affect your mental and physical abilities.
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
American Society of Anesthesiologists
Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society
American Society of Anesthesiologists. Distinguishing monitored anesthesia care (MAC) from moderate sedation/analgesia (conscious sedation). 2009;Oct 21.
Bayman E, Dexter F, et al. National incidence of use of monitored anesthesia care.
Anesth Analg. 2011;113(1):165-169.
Furstein J, Patel M, et al. Use of dexmedetomidine for monitored anesthesia care for diskography in adolescents.
AANA Journal. 2011;79(5):421-425.
Ghisi D, Fanelli A, et al. Monitored anesthesia care.
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Moderate (conscious) sedation FAQ. American College of Emergency Physicians website. Available at: http://www.acep.org/content.aspx?id=30480. Updated June 2014. Accessed August 20, 2014.
Monitored anesthesia care. Northeastern Anesthesia Services website. Available at:
http://www.northeasternanesthesia.com/youranasthesia/care.php. Accessed August 20, 2014.
Thompson K. Chapter 47: Monitored anesthesia care. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill website. Available at:
http://www.unc.edu/~rvp/old/RP_Anesthesia/Barash/Ch47_MAC.html. Accessed August 20, 2014.
Last reviewed August 2014 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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