Monday, 9 June 2014

"What's the difference between 'anesthesia' and 'sedation'?"

Anesthesia is defined as "Insensitivity to pain, especially as artificially induced by the administration of gases or the injection of drugs before surgical operations." Basically it means that we use medications to prevent pain during medical procedures. There are many different types of medications that we use - e.g.  local anesthetics to numb up a particular area; inhaled anesthetic gases that put a patient all the way 'to sleep'.

Sedation, on the other hand, is defined as "The administering of a sedative drug to produce a state of calm or sleep". That is, we use medications to relax you. Note that this can be with or without anesthesia. For example, if a patient has a spinal anesthetic for a procedure, we may sedate them so that they can comfortable lie on a hard operating table for 3 hours or so. Conversely, we might sedate a very anxious patient so that they could have an MRI scan without moving.

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