Differences between General Anesthesia and Sedation

Differences between General Anesthesia and Sedation

Oct 01, 2021

If scheduled for any surgical procedure will likely receive different types of sedation depending on the process you are undergoing besides your level of anxiety. Your healthcare provider determines which type of sedation is appropriate for your needs after considering your entire medical history, the procedure you are slated to undergo, and various other factors before determining the kind of anesthesia suitable for you.

Anesthesia is generally a requirement to manage pain and anxiety. However, mere sedation does not make you invulnerable to pain because you still experience pain unless your provider administers separate anesthesia at the site of the procedure to ensure you are entirely comfortable. It is why differences have emerged between sedation vs. general anesthesia. Let us look at the differences between sedation and general anesthesia to understand better both procedures and how they make you comfortable during your process.

General Anesthesia Explained

Sedation accompanied by analgesics, muscle paralysis, and amnesia is the eventual result of general anesthesia, which induces reversible and controlled unconsciousness.

If you are receiving general anesthesia, you are likely to receive pre-medications before the surgery to help you relax. Providers choose the appropriate drugs for this process for you before the procedure. Other medications are administered according to your unique necessities. For example, if you are at risk of gastroesophageal reflux, you may receive medicines to counter the problem.

You receive induction anesthesia with general anesthesia with drugs putting you to sleep, and when these drugs begin wearing off, you are administered maintenance anesthesia. When your procedure is nearing completion, the drugs are stopped using agents to reverse the effects of muscle paralysis.

Sedation Explained

Sedation and general anesthesia are both forms of anesthesia, and sedation is a component of the latter. However, there are both different in several aspects. For example, if you receive general anesthesia, you are rendered entirely unconscious, ensuring you will not feel, hear, or remember anything. On the other hand, sedation renders you feeling very sleepy and relaxed in consciousness without rendering you unconscious. As a result, you will not feel pain while being aware of what is happening around you.

With sedation, you can avoid the adverse effects associated with general anesthesia, which is beneficial by itself. You also retain the natural physiological reflexes leaving you breathing of breathing by yourself.

Your provider may decide to give you procedural sedation anesthesia with sedatives and painkillers. These medications ease discomfort, anxiety, and pain. Procedural sedation anesthesia is usually delivered through an IV line in your arm or recommended to swallow or inhale them.

You can have your procedure when you are under this type of sedation. Your provider and their medical team will observe your heart and breathing carefully. You remain awake during the process without any recollection of anything afterward.

The sedation levels can vary, ranging from minimal to relatively deep. Therefore, you require minimal time to respond to questions and requests. However, if you are under deeper levels of sedation, you may need some stimulation before you respond. However, you are conscious and not rendered unconscious like is familiar with general anesthesia.

Which Sedation Technique Is Best for Your Specific Needs?

Suppose you are undergoing a complicated but short and straightforward procedure. In that case, your provider determines procedural sedation anesthesia is best for your requirements after going through your medical history, any past problems with sedation or anesthesia, any current symptoms like sudden fever, and the medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs like aspirin.

If required, you must stop smoking before your procedure to lower your chances of confronting any problems. You must also refrain from eating or drinking anything after midnight before your scheduled procedure. However, you must arrange for help to have someone drive you home after the surgery.

If your procedure is complicated, anesthesiologists might prefer general anesthesia because it permits them to completely control your airway to eliminate the need to worry about oxygenation. However, the recovery period from sedation is usually quicker than general anesthesia.

Anesthesiologists monitor your cardiovascular function with general anesthesia because it is usually impaired, making monitoring mandatory. In addition, the standard fasting time before the procedure for general anesthesia is over six hours.

Whether your provider recommends general anesthesia or sedation, remember both procedures are safe as a method of relaxing you and alleviating your anxiety and pain. The sole difference between the two is that one renders you entirely unconscious. The other leaves you in a state of consciousness depending on the level of sedation you receive but utterly unaware of what is happening around you.

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