What is intravenous sedation?
Intravenous sedation is a modern, safe, predictable and effective way to reduce anxiety in patients. It makes potentially stressful procedures more pleasant for you.
What is the sedative?
The sedative used is called midazolam. It is a member of the benzodiazepine group of drugs and is the main agent recommended for use in intravenous sedation in NZ.
Midazolam is well suited for intravenous sedation as it brings about a general state of relaxation. The recovery period is smooth and quite short, with no feelings of nausea.
How does it feel to be sedated?
You will feel very relaxed and possibly sleepy, with a general sense of detachment from what is going on.
During your operation, you stay conscious, so you do not lose vital protective reflexes (such as the ability to cough).
After your operation, you are likely to have little or no recollection of having the treatment carried out.
How is the sedative given?
The sedative is given through a small plastic tube (a 'cannula') put into a vein on the back of your hand or inside your elbow. The insertion of the cannula is very quick and simple.
The sedative is given in small amounts over a period of time until you are sufficiently sedated for the operation to begin. You will be monitored from the start of the procedure by our nurses who have specific and recognised training in the care of patients receiving treatment under sedation. Medical monitoring equipment is used to record your pulse, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, breathing rate and end-of-breath carbon dioxide levels throughout your treatment as well as during the recovery period.
What happens after I am sedated?
A local anaesthetic is still needed to numb the area of surgery. This is given slowly and carefully before your operation begins.
After your operation, a recovery period is necessary during which the immediate effects of the sedation start to wear off. Your monitoring will be continued during this time. All relevant postoperative instructions (including any prescribed medicines) will be discussed with your escort. When we are satisfied that you have recovered enough, you will be discharged home in your escort's care.
How long does the sedation last?
This depends on the operation you need. We aim to keep the sedation at a satisfactory level for the duration of your operation. You will only be discharged home when you have recovered enough from the sedation. The effects of the sedative will be present for the next 24 hours, so it is essential that you follow our postoperative instructions.
Are there any risks involved?
The administration of any drug carries some risk. The risks associated with intravenous sedation as described are very small and can be further minimized by following our pre- and postoperative instructions. A very small number of patients are not suitable for treatment under intravenous sedation for medical reasons.
Please discuss any concerns you have by contacting the clinic on 09 215 8234
How does sedation compare with general anaesthesia?
Intravenous sedation is a form of 'conscious sedation' as, unlike general anaesthesia, the aim is not to bring about a complete loss of consciousness (including loss of protective reflexes). General anaesthesia can now only be administered in a hospital setting.
Intravenous sedation is inherently a more pleasant way of having potentially stressful treatment carried out. It is especially good if you are apprehensive, as the sedative's action actually removes anxiety and so makes treatment much more comfortable.
You're in safe hands
Dr Kellie Houlahan and Dr AJ Salman are both members of the New Zealand Sedation Society following the guidelines of good practice set out by this organisation.