IV Sedation vs General Anesthesia
When your dentist or medical provider recommends surgery, they will evaluate you medically during your consultation visit to see if you would be a better candidate for IV sedation or general anesthesia. But a lot of people end up asking, what is the difference between the two procedures? In this article we delve into the specifics of what differentiates the two, and how similar they really are.
When comparing the two, it is a good idea to consider the level of consciousness of a scale of 1-100 where 1 would be a person fully awake and fully conscious, and 100 would be an individual who is unconscious. IV sedation falls somewhere in the middle.
What is IV sedation?
Sedation is considered to be a light sleep. The amount of medication that is given to these patients are measured and given slowly during a medical or dental procedure. When the clinician is comfortable with your level of sedation, he or she halts giving you any more IV medications.
During your sedation procedure, you will be unable to recognize your surroundings, but will be able to respond to stimulation and commands from your clinician.
The medications given during IV sedation will help you not remember the procedure as they do have an amnesiac effect afterwards.
There are three levels of IV sedation: mild sedation, moderate sedation, and deep sedation. The three levels are reached based on how your body reacts to the medications given during the procedure. One individual may reach deeper levels of sedation with less medications than another person.
IV sedation is generally given for minor procedures such as wisdom teeth removal, suturing, and is sometimes given for longer procedures like MRIs.
What is general anesthesia?
General anesthesia is when is when an individual is completely unaware of their surroundings and is not responsive to any stimuli. These is commonly seen in the operating room where patients are put “under” for their surgeries. Airway management becomes of utmost importance under general anesthesia as the patient is not able to maintain their own breathing.
There is a gray area between deep conscious sedation and general anesthesia. The amount of medicine given to any individual must be monitored with extreme caution as a patient under deep sedation may fall into the category of general anesthesia if too much medicine is pushed into their system.
This can be very dangerous as the patients airway may collapse, and airway management becomes a medical emergency.
A brief stint of general anesthesia is often seen for diagnostic procedures such as a flexible bronchoscopy, upper and lower endoscopy (although deep IV sedation may be used here), bone marrow aspirate or lumbar puncture, as well as many longer MRI imaging procedures for children who are unable to lay still.
Below are some comparisons that are seen between general anesthesia and IV conscious sedation.
What type of relief will I find with IV sedation and General Anesthesia?
Pain relief and amnesia are commonly seen with IV sedation.
Muscle relaxation, loss of consciousness, pain relief, and amnesia are seen with General Anesthesia.
What are the common side effects with IV sedation and General Anesthesia?
Tiredness, and fatigue are seen afterwards with IV sedation.
Nausea and vomiting as well as tiredness may be seen with general anesthesia.
When are IV sedation and general anesthesia contraindicated (not allowed to be given)?
- Severe respiratory problems
- Allergy to benzodiazepines
- Liver or Kidney failure
- Severe and uncontrolled asthma
There will be emergencies where general anesthesia is administered to overcome a life threatening situation, but in general, these are the major conditions where sedation is usually not given nor recommended.
What procedures are common with IV sedation?
- Wisdom teeth removal
- Dental Treatment of any sort with anxious patients
- Endoscopy (general anesthesia) may also be given here
- Suturing in the emergency room
What procedures are common with general anesthesia?
- Major surgeries
- Major medical procedures on children
Again, there is a gray area between IV sedation and general anesthesia. We hope that this article clarified some of the differences between the two.