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Anesthesia Options for Surgery at BC Women's Hospital

 
Procedural sedation
Procedural Sedation

Procedural or conscious sedation is when you are given medicine to help you relax and reduce pain during surgery, but which allows you to remain awake. You will be aware of your surroundings and be able to respond to your care providers in the procedure room. However, you may feel sleepy and will likely not remember your procedure.

This method of anesthesia is safe and effective. The benefits of procedural sedation are a shorter recovery time, and quicker return to your normal daily activities compared to general anesthesia. 

Procedural sedation may be the right choice for you if you want to feel a little bit sleepy but be able to respond to your care providers in the operating room. 


For some people, procedural sedation is not enough to make them feel comfortable or relieve their pain. If you regularly experience severe anxiety, procedural sedation may not be the right choice for you. 


Procedural sedation is not appropriate for all surgeries. Some surgeries (eg. laparoscopy) can only be performed under general anesthesia. Talk to your doctor about whether procedural sedation is appropriate for you. 

A nurse will give you pills to swallow to prevent pain and nausea before your surgery. You will receive sedation medication through an intravenous line (IV) in your arm. 


The sedation medication works within minutes, and goes away quickly as well. You may feel drowsy and fall asleep during the procedure but you will wake easily and be able to respond to your care providers. 


Your care providers will monitor your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs during the procedure to make sure you are well. 

 

After the procedure, you will rest in the recovery room until you are awake enough to go home. On average, you can epect to be in the recovery area for an hour. You must arrange for a responsible adult to take you home, even if you are going by taxi.


To ensure you recover well, follow these instructions:

  • Do not take any sedatives (alcohol, sleeping pills) or recreational drugs for 24 hours after your surgery.
  • You cannot drive a car or operate any vehicle for 24 hours after surgery.
  • Try not to make important decisions or work for 24 hours after your surgery.
  • Begin eating your normal diet when you feel hungry.
  • Ask your doctor when you can return to your regular activities.
 
General anesthesia
General anesthesia

General anesthesia is medicine given to you by an Anesthesiologist (physician) through an intravenous line (IV) in your arm. This will allow you to be completely asleep, and will have a breathing tube to help you breathe during the surgery. You will not be aware of what is happening during the procedure and you will not remember the surgery.

General anesthesia is used for procedures that are long, complex, or too uncomfortable to be performed under procedural sedation.

General anesthesia is safe and most people have no complications. Risks may be higher for older adults or those with certain health conditions. Your surgeon will advise you if you need to meet with an anesthesiologist to review your health in the weeks prior to surgery.

‎Some surgeries can only be done under general anesthesia. If you are eligible for both general anesthesia and procedural sedation, general anesthesia may be a good choice if you prefer to be completely asleep during your surgery. Talk to your doctor about whether this is the right choice for you.

Some surgeries can only be done under general anesthesia. If you are eligible for both general anesthesia and procedural sedation, general anesthesia may be a good choice if you prefer to be unconscious (asleep) during your surgery. Talk to your doctor about whether this is the right choice for you.

 

A specialist doctor (Anesthesiologist) will give you medicine through an intravenous needle (IV) in your arm. You will fall asleep almost immediately, and will likely not recall waking up.


You will be monitored throughout the surgery to make sure you are safe and your body is functioning normally.


When you wake up in the recovery room, you may have monitors for your heart and oxygen levels. You may experience hoarseness, or slightly sore throat from the breathing tube for a few days after a general anesthetic. These symptoms usually disappear by themselves. 


You will be able to go home generally within 2-3 hours after your surgery. You must arrange for a responsible adult to take you home, even if you are going by taxi.


  • Do not drive a vehicle or use public transit alone for 24 hours after your surgery.
  • We recommend that you have someone available to attend to you for 24 hours following general anesthesia.
  • Rest in bed until you feel fully recovered from the anesthetic. DO NOT plan other activities for the rest of the day.
  • Do not take any sedatives (alcohol, sleeping pills) or recreational drugs for 24 hours after your surgery.
  • Try not to make important decisions or work for 24 hours after your surgery.
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