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Sedation and Analgesia

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 2, 2022.

What is it?

  • Sedation (suh-da-shun) and analgesia (an-al-g-zuh) is a kind of anesthesia. It is also called conscious sedation or procedural sedation. Anesthesia (an-iss-thee-zuh) is medicine to make you comfortable during your test or procedure. Sedation is getting medicines to help you relax. Analgesia is getting medicine for pain.
  • These kinds of medicine may be given as a pill, a shot, a spray in your nose, or an IV. You may also get a gas medicine through a mask. You may forget what happens during the time the medicine is working, but this is normal. You will also be able to talk, answer questions, breathe and swallow on your own. You will not be able to get up during the procedure.

Why is it used?

Sedation and analgesia is used for many tests or treatments. Caregivers give you this medicine when they need you to be very calm or hold very still. The following are some examples of when you might need sedation and analgesia.

  • Biopsy (bi-op-c): This is when a small piece of tissue is removed from your body. It is then sent to the lab for tests.
  • Colonoscopy (ko-lun-oss-kuh-p): This is a test used to look at the part of your intestine (bowel) called the colon Your caregiver can check for any problems.
  • Dental work: A procedure like a root canal or something that involves many teeth.
  • Fixing broken bones: Moving bones back into place.
  • Foot surgery: For example, bunion removal or to fix a hammertoe (when the toe bends downward).
  • Lumbar Puncture (punk-sher): This procedure may also be called a spinal tap. Fluid may be taken from your spine and sent to a lab for tests.
  • Plastic surgery: For example, a skin graft or removing a growth from the skin.
  • Emergency room procedures: For example, fixing large cuts
  • Vasectomy (vah-sek-tuh-mee): a procedure to make a man unable to get a woman pregnant

What do I need to do before my test or procedure?

  • You will need someone to bring you to your test or procedure and then drive you home.
  • Write any questions you have down so you can ask your caregiver before your test or procedure. You will feel more relaxed and do better during your test or procedure if you get your questions answered.
  • Your caregiver may give you special instructions. Follow all the instructions carefully.
  • Always call your caregivers if you have any questions

What will my caregivers ask me before my test or procedure?

  • Do you use alcohol or drugs?
  • Do you have any allergies to medicines, foods, or dyes?
  • Do you take any medicines that are prescription (ordered by your doctor) or non-prescription (over-the-counter)? Do you take any herbs, or vitamins? What are the names and amounts of medicines you take?
  • Have you ever had any reaction to anesthesia?
  • Have you ever had surgery and what kind of surgery did you have?
  • What are your medical problems?
  • When did you last have anything to eat or drink?

What is Informed Consent?

Informed Consent is your right to understand your health problem in words you can understand. You should be told what tests, treatments, or procedures may be done to treat your problem. Your doctor should also tell you about the risks and benefits of each treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives caregivers permission to do certain tests, treatments, or procedures. If you are unable to give your consent, someone who has permission can sign this form for you. A consent form is a legal piece of paper that tells exactly what will be done to you. Before giving your consent, make sure all your questions have been answered so that you understand what may happen.

What will happen before the surgery?

Your caregiver will get you ready by doing the following:

  • Vital signs: This includes taking your temperature, blood pressure, pulse (counting your heartbeat), and respirations (counting your breaths). To take your blood pressure, a cuff is put on your arm and tightened. The cuff is attached to a machine which gives your blood pressure reading. Caregivers may listen to your heart and lungs by using a stethoscope. Your vital signs are taken so caregivers can see how you are doing.
  • IV: An IV is a tube that may be placed in your vein for giving medicine or liquids. This tube is capped or connected to tubing and liquid.
  • Oxygen: You may need extra oxygen during your test or procedure. It may be given through a plastic mask over your mouth and nose. Or, it may be given through nasal prongs (short, thin tubes in your nose). Tell your caregiver if the oxygen is drying out your nose or if the nasal prongs bother you. Don't take off your oxygen without asking your caregiver. If you do, your body may not have enough oxygen.
  • Heart Monitor: This is also called an EKG or an electrocardiogram (e-lek-tro-kar-d-o-gram). It is a painless test to see how your heart is working. Sticky pads (3 or 5) are placed on different parts of your body. Each pad has a wire that is hooked to a TV-type screen or to a small portable box (telemetry unit). This screen or box shows a tracing of each heartbeat. You may be hooked to a heart monitor if you have any heart or blood pressure problems, or unusual heartbeats. Caregivers watch this tracing for any problems with the way your heart is beating
  • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a machine that tells how much oxygen is in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your ear, finger, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Caregivers use this machine to see if you need more oxygen.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What will happen during the procedure?

Your caregiver will be with you all during the procedure. Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing every few minutes. They will also talk to you to see how you are doing. Caregivers will give you as much medicine as you need. Your caregivers are trained to care for you if there is an emergency. Your caregivers have all the equipment they need to care for you safely.

What will happen after your procedure?

  • You will stay hooked to the machines for your heart and oxygen. You may still have your IV and oxygen. When the medicines have worn off you may get up. You may go home when you feel alert, your breathing is normal, and you can walk and go to the bathroom. Caregivers will give you instructions for what to do at home. You will also be told when to go back to your doctor.
  • You may feel sleepy for the rest of the day and the next morning. You may have a headache, mild pain, cramping or some nausea and vomiting. You may also have some strange memories of the procedure. Caregivers may give you some pain medicine to use at home.
  • Do not drive a car or operate machinery in the first 24 hours after your procedure.
  • Do not make any major decisions in the first 24 hours after your test or procedure.

What are the risks of having sedation and analgesia?

There are risks with sedation and analgesia. Caregivers will watch you closely and treat any problems. You could have a bad reaction to the medicine. You may have difficulty breathing. You could feel nausea (upset stomach) during or after the procedure. It may take up to 24 hours for the medicine to wear off before you can feel and move normally. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about sedation and analgesia and your test or procedure. You can then discuss your treatment options with caregivers. Work with them to decide what sedation and analgesia will be used for the test or procedure. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Sedation and Analgesia

Treatment options

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.