Sedation refers to any method used to help patients remain calm during surgical procedures, whether minor or major. Some common surgical procedures include dental surgery, colonoscopies, C-sections, appendectomies and tonsillectomies. Anticipating a surgical procedure can bring a lot of anxiety to patients, especially when it is their first operation. Understanding what sedation entails beforehand will enable you to know what to expect and manage your fears.
Levels of Sedation
Different surgical procedures require different levels of sedation, such as:
Light sedation refers to a state where a patient is drowsy but able to communicate during the procedure. It is used for quick surgical procedures like wisdom teeth removal as it wears off in a short period.
In this kind of state, a patient is conscious and may make unclear utterances during the procedure without much recollection of the process.
Under this sedation, a patient is in a low state of consciousness, can respond to pain but won’t remember events that transpire during the procedure.
Under general anesthesia, patients are unconscious, with functions like breathing impaired. Major operations like open-heart surgery require general anesthesia.
Considerations Before Sedation
Before any surgical procedure, your surgeon assesses various factors to ensure that your well-being is not compromised. These factors include:
Drug Use in the Present and Past
Patients should not conceal drug use from their doctors as many drugs, including Cocaine and Marijuana, may affect the functioning of anesthesia and post-surgical recovery.
It is crucial to tell your doctor about any allergies you might have to enable them to use a safe anesthetic on you without triggering allergic reactions, which can be life-threatening.
Any Medicines You are Taking
If you are on any medication, for whatever reason, inform your surgeon as some medicines may have adverse reactions with anesthesia drugs.
Alcohol and Cigarette Consumption
Smoking and drinking alter your body functions and may affect the working of anesthesia and slow down healing.
Sedation Options for Surgery
Depending on the nature of the operation, age, personal preference and the surgeon’s preference, there are various ways to achieve sedation in patients, including:
With this type of sedation, an anesthetist inserts anesthesia through a vein, normally in the arm. It takes effect quickly and is commonly used in combination with local anesthetics. IV sedation is used mainly for less complicated, out-patient procedures like colonoscopies.
The ingestion of anesthetic pills achieves oral sedation before the surgical procedure. Depending on the desired level of sedation, the dosage can be increased or reduced. It is used to manage anxiety in dental patients.
Nitrous Oxide, or ‘laughing gas’, is commonly used for dental procedures in patients with moderate anxiety. This type of sedation wears off quickly, allowing patients to resume their activities within a short period.
This type of sedation renders patients unconscious and is used for long, complex surgical procedures like spinal operations. Additionally, it is ideal for young children who may be irritable or unable to wait for an operation to end patiently.