Anesthesia Conscious Sedation
What is Conscious Sedation
The use of anesthesia during a surgical procedure can take several different forms that vary between numbing a specific area to rendering a patient unconscious in order to perform a complex surgery. Somewhere in the middle there is the option of conscious sedation, which is popular with patients and their doctors for many reasons. The risks associated with conscious sedation are less prevalent than they are with general anesthesia which results in a patient losing consciousness entirely during a procedure and requires that their vital signs be closely monitored. At the same time, it is more effective than local or regional anesthesia that numbs an area or even a limb of a patient during a procedure.
What Happens During Conscious Sedation
With conscious sedation, a patient is relaxed to the point where painful sensations are dulled during a procedure. It is administered either in pill form, as an injection or it is inhaled. Endoscopy and plastic surgery are procedures that commonly rely on conscious sedation. A major benefit of this type of sedation is that the patient stays awake and alert during their procedure and is able to answer questions that the surgeon might have. Many patients are more comfortable with this form of anesthesia and prefer not to lose consciousness completely unless it is absolutely necessary. This may be due to their own personal or family history with general anesthesia, potential complications due to their medications, or even their own preconceived notions. Although they are alert during the procedure, most patients do not recall the actual operation after it is completed.
In most cases, it is not required that an anesthesiologist administer this type of sedative, instead a nurse or the doctor or dentist will give the medication which is a combination of a sedative and an anesthetic. The medicine wears off more quickly than general anesthesia, so it is normally used for shorter procedures, such as a colonoscopy, breast biopsy, plastic surgery, and dental procedures. Patients should make sure to communicate any known allergies and the medications and/or supplements they take before taking the anesthetic and follow instructions involving fasting or temporarily altering their dosage to prevent any negative interactions.
How Conscious Sedation Affects a Patient
Like any medication, the exact affect of conscious sedation can vary. Some things to be aware of is that breathing can become slower, and there can be a slight drop in blood pressure. Normally, these changes are not significant enough to cause concern. Extra oxygen is often kept nearby as a precaution. Falling asleep is possible, but the patient wakes up quickly when communicating with medical staff is necessary. Instead of the close monitoring of vital signs that happens when a person is unconscious from general anesthesia, a nurse or doctor keeps an eye on the patient and will ask if they are okay every few minutes.
After the procedure is finished, many patients get a headache or become nauseated. Blood oxygen levels are monitored with a pulse oximeter that attaches to the finger, and the patient’s blood pressure is checked every 15 minutes. After an hour or two, the patient is allowed to go home, but is advised against driving, operating machinery, drinking alcohol, or making major decisions for at least 24 hours. A good healthy meal is advised to help the patient regain their energy along with any specific instructions that the doctor gives that pertains to the specific procedure.
While conscious sedation is generally safe, it is still good to have the right people around throughout the process who can anticipate any possible complications and be prepared for them. At Comprehensive Pain Specialists, many of our doctors have a strong background in anesthesiology and have received extensive training from respected universities around the world. CPS has become the “go to” place where many doctors refer their patients in these areas who need special attention for managing pain associated with a variety of injuries and illnesses.