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. Breathing support will not be needed. It will also be easy to wake you, so you can answer questions or move during surgery.
Reasons for Procedure
Moderate sedation can be used for a range of procedures. It may be used instead of general anesthesia if overall health is poor. Other benefits may include:
Faster recovery time
Fewer problems from anesthesia
A ventilator will also not be needed for moderate sedation.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review possible problems, like:
Nausea and vomiting
Temporary memory problems—you may not remember the surgery
Breathing problems during the surgery
Factors that may increase the risk of problems include:
The care team will monitor vital signs and comfort. Medicine may need to be adjusted through surgery. The goal will be to make sure you are comfortable and pain-free. The medicine may need to be increased so that you are fully asleep. Breathing support with a ventilator will then be needed.
Immediately After Procedure
The hospital staff will monitor vital signs.
How Much Will It Hurt?
The medicine will block pain during the procedure.
Average Hospital Stay
The length of your stay will depend on the reason you had surgery.
The medicine will affect how you think or move even after you wake. Skilled things like driving should be avoided for the day.
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
Nausea and vomiting
Pain that cannot be controlled with the medications you were given
Bayman E, Dexter F, Laur JJ, Wachtel RE. National incidence of use of monitored anesthesia care. Anesth Analg. 2011;113(1):165-169.
Furstein J, Patel M, Sadhasivasa S, Mahmoud M. Use of dexmedetomidine for monitored anesthesia care for diskography in adolescents. AANA Journal. 2011;79(5):421-425.
Moderate (conscious) sedation FAQ. American College of Emergency Physicians website. Available at: https://www.acep.org/content.aspx?id=30480#sm.0001fpfenu1dere2buhdwbfpp4x8i. Updated May 26, 2015. Accessed February 13, 2020.
Monitored anesthesia care. Northeastern Anesthesia Services website. Available at: https://www.northeasternanesthesia.com/youranasthesia/care.php. Accessed February 13, 2020.
Patient education brochures. American Society of Anesthesiologists website. Available at: http://www.asahq.org/resources/patients/patient-education-brochures. Accessed February 13, 2020.
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 February 13, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2019 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 9/11/2020
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