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Sedation & Local Anaesthesia

What is sedation?

Sedative drugs relieve anxiety and cause temporary relaxation, but they still allow you to remain conscious and breathe for yourself. Sedatives are often used to help people relax during medical procedures. People often fall asleep while sedated and you will remember very little about the treatment done under sedation.

Sedative drugs don’t block the pain signals to the brain, so local or regional anaesthetic is often given as well. Sedation can be inhaled – as gas and air, swallowed in tablet or liquid form or injected into a vein in the back of your hand or your arm. The type and dose of sedation given depends on the procedure and how anxious you are about it.

Preparing for Sedation

These instructions will vary depending on the type of sedative you are given. If sedatives are being injected or swallowed then you may be asked not to eat for six hours before your procedure. Ask your doctor for specific advice about sedation.

During Sedation

Sedatives can sometimes affect your breathing. While you are sedated, the amount of oxygen in your blood will be monitored constantly through a small clasp on your finger and you may be given extra oxygen through a mask or a plastic nasal tube.

After your Sedation

You will be allowed to go home after most of the effects of the sedation have worn off.

The effects of the sedative may last longer than you expect. Do not drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery or sign legal documents until your doctor or dentist tells you that it is safe to do so. This will be at least 24 hours after the treatment. This means you will have to arrange for someone to drive you home.

If you have children or other dependents, you may need to arrange for someone to care for them during this time. If you are in any doubt about driving, please contact your motor insurers so that you are aware of their recommendations and always follow your doctor or dentists advice.

Deciding to have local anaesthesia or sedation

Local anaesthesia and sedation are commonly performed and generally safe procedures. In many cases there are clear advantages over general anaesthesia, such as speed of recovery and lower risk of complications. However, in order to make an informed decision and give your consent, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications.

Side-effects are the unwanted, but mostly temporary effects of successful treatment. After a regional anaesthesia your blood-pressure may temporarily drop. This may make you feel weak or cause you to faint. You may also have temporary loss of muscle control in the treated area.

If you have sedation, you may get a headache, feel nauseous or be sick and have feelings similar to those of a hangover. Most people have some amnesia about the procedure.

Complications are unexpected problems that can occur during or after the procedure. Most people are not affected. With any procedure involving anaesthesia there is a very small risk of an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic.

Ask your doctor to explain how these risks apply to you. The exact risk will differ for every person.