Patients ask me this question all the time! What IS sedation and how is it different from local anesthesia and general anesthesia? Let's explore twilight sedation and conscious sedation so you know what to expect.
Sedation is a form of anesthesia
Sedation is a "light" form of anesthesia. When you have sedation, your body is not fully unconscious. You are drowsy and are still breathing on your own.
Another question is there difference between conscious sedation and twilight sedation. These are all the same type of anesthesia. However, sedation does run on a spectrum of "minimal" to "deep".
Importantly, just because you're not unconscious doesn't mean you will remember anything or feel pain! My patients are very nervous about this! But there's little reason to be afraid. In fact, patients like to have sedation, especially for colonoscopies!
The spectrum of sedation
Depending on what your surgery is, and if you have an anesthesiologist or not, your sedation may be mild, moderate, or deep:
Even though you won't be unconscious, you'll be comfortable and probably won't remember your procedure
Will I be awake for my surgery under sedation?
No, you will not be fully awake. But don't expect to be under full anesthesia (including a breathing tube), either!
With high likelihood, you will remember very little from the actual surgery. In fact, you may not remember anything at all. So, even though you'll be in a "twilight zone", you won't be fully asleep, either. This is especially the case if you have moderate or deep sedation with an anesthesiologist.
Will I feel pain if I have sedation?
Not necessarily! Just because you're having sedation (instead of general anesthesia) doesn't mean you're fully awake or aware. You can be very comfortable while under sedation for your surgery.
Many patients are worried about feeling pain under sedation. There are many ways your anesthesiologist can help prevent you from feeling pain, particularly under deep sedation. Because of this, patients want to have deep sedation when possible, particularly in dental procedures.
Do you get a breathing tube when you have sedation?
Unlike general anesthesia, you typically do NOT get a breathing tube when you are having sedation. This is because your body is not fully unconscious. Your body is still able to breathe on its own. That means no breathing tube (and with it, fewer side effects).
But you will get an IV
For the medication to reach your brain (where it acts), you'll need an IV. The small discomfort of the IV is worth the sedation!
What types of surgeries are performed under sedation?
Many types of surgeries are performed under sedation. It depends heavily on your surgeon and anesthesiologists' preferences. Some examples include:
- Colonoscopies and endoscopies
- Carpal tunnel release
- Back injections
- Minor hand and foot surgeries
Baudet, Juan-Salvador, and Armando Aguirre-Jaime. "The sedation increases the acceptance of repeat colonoscopies." European journal of gastroenterology & hepatology 24.7 (2012): 775-780.
Chanpong, Brian, Daniel A. Haas, and David Locker. "Need and demand for sedation or general anesthesia in dentistry: a national survey of the Canadian population." Anesthesia progress 52.1 (2005): 3-11.