Procedural sedation

Procedural sedation combines the use of local anesthesia with sedatives to relax you for minor procedures. You may or may not be conscious.

A local anesthetic is injected into the body area that needs to be numbed for the procedure. The sedative is usually given intravenously (IV) first. The most commonly used sedative medicines are benzodiazepines, such as midazolam. You will most likely experience forgetfulness (amnesia) with midazolam.

You will be closely monitored during the procedure by a qualified health professional, such as a registered nurse (RN), to avoid any complications. An RN is not an anesthesia specialist but may give some limited types of anesthesia under the direction of a surgeon for minor medical procedures.

During some but not all types of procedural sedation, you may respond appropriately to physical stimulation and verbal commands. Procedural sedation can help relieve pain and anxiety and limit some of the discomfort of lying still.

Procedural sedation may be used when:

  • Your procedure is a minor one that requires only limited anesthesia.
  • Your procedure does not require specialized equipment or a full operating room staff.
  • You are particularly anxious or sensitive to pain and want sedation for a minor procedure that is usually done without sedation.
  • Small children need to relax and lie still. Sedation for even very minor procedures or diagnostic tests (such as a computed tomography [CT] scan) may make it easier for the child.

Last Updated: January 28, 2010

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