Conscious Sedation

Conscious sedation is the safe and effective administration of drugs that relieve anxiety and reduce pain. The aim of conscious sedation is to make the patient as comfortable as possible, whilst monitoring the patient continuously.

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What is Conscious Sedation?


Certain procedures (medical and dental) can be performed safely and efficiently under conscious sedation outside the theatre environment (i.e. In the dentist or medical practitioner’s rooms). Sedation presents a cost-effective alternative to general anaesthetic (in certain procedures) and can be done in appropriately equipped dentists’ or doctors’ facilities. Sedation is an ideal alternative for the patient who dreads a traumatic theatre experience.

Not only is anxiety minimized, patients are back on their feet sooner, without the long recovery period of a general anaesthetic. The side effects experienced with conscious sedation are much less than with a general anaesthetic – very few patients experience any side effects at all.

Costs of conscious sedation are significantly lower if compared to the traditional theatre based general anaesthetic option. Patients and medical aids when choosing conscious sedation as an option realize considerable savings. The versatility and safety of sedation coupled with the many benefits to the patient make Conscious Sedation the perfect choice for many medical and dental procedures.

Frequently asked questions and answers:

How does conscious sedation differ from general anaesthetic?


Conscious sedation is a partial suppression of consciousness. The patient will feel relaxed and comfortable and some patients even sleep during the procedure. During conscious sedation patients can be aroused verbally and will respond appropriately to questions and stimuli. General anaesthetic is used in procedures where the anaesthetist totally suppresses the patient’s consciousness. A general anaesthetic can only be done in hospital with the appropriate facilities.

If I am conscious during the procedure, will I feel pain?


No! In most procedures done under conscious sedation the administration of local anaesthetic will effectively block pain. The goal of conscious sedation is to control anxiety and pain. The sedation practitioner will thus give you certain drugs to reduce pain during the procedure as well as drugs that will help with post-operative pain control. This in combination with the administration of the local anaesthetic will give you optimal pain relief during the procedure.

How long does it take to ‘wake up’ after the procedure?


The recovery time depends on the drugs used, the patient’s individual response to the drugs and the time spent under sedation. During a conscious sedation your consciousness will never be totally suppressed as with a general anaesthetic – thus the term conscious sedation. Some patients are sleepier than others and some will even sleep through the procedure. After the infusion of the drugs has stopped, recovery is swift. In most cases this recovery time is 15-30 minutes.

What side effects can occur after a conscious sedation?


The side effects after conscious sedation are much less than with a general anaesthetic. Almost none of the patient’s experience nausea after the sedation. One of the drugs used during conscious sedation has a strong anti-nausea effect. The incidence is only 0.7%.

What can I do for the rest of the day?


You should be able to leave the aftercare after 15-45 minutes. You are however not allowed to drive yourself home. You will not be able to leave the doctors’ or dentists’ room if there is not a responsible adult that can drive you home. For the rest of the day you are not allowed to sign any legally binding documents and you are not allowed to take part in any activities that require alertness or coordination (this is for at least 12 hours following treatment). You will not be able to return to work on the same day as the sedation. You should remain in the company of a responsible adult for 12 hours following the sedation.

Will my medical aid pay for my sedation?


Most medical aids are aware of the financial advantages of conscious sedation and are therefore willing to cover the procedure. However, it is advisable to check with your medical aid beforehand, to find out if they will cover the conscious sedation. Some medical aids will only cover part of the fees. It is your own responsibility to obtain authorization from your medical aid.

Who is qualified to perform conscious sedation?


General Practitioners or Anesthetists who have had specific post-graduate training in conscious sedation.