Sedation means the administration of drugs to relieve anxiety and pain, and is the fastest growing area in anaesthesia care.
The aim of sedation is to make the patient comfortable and safe during a procedure. The patients become drowsy and many of them sleep. They experience no pain and remember very little about the operation, but communication is possible during the operation if needed.
To make a patient comfortable, we administer drugs. To make a patient safe, we monitor the patient as if the patient will get a general anaesthesia. Certain procedures e.g. endoscopies, plastic surgery, dermatology, dental and other medical procedures can now be safely done outside the operating theatre. This has very important implications for costs, as sedation care involves lower costs than theatre and anaesthesia care. Many patients have had previous post-traumatic experiences and are extremely anxious when in a theatre environment. Sedation can be safely done outside the theatre in adequately equipped rooms.
Recovery after sedation is much faster than with general anaesthesia. The same applies for the side effect profile e.g. nausea and vomiting which is much less than with general anaesthesia. In fact, very few patients experience any side effects. Medical insurance is becoming very interested in sedation as an option in patient care.
Patient satisfaction is very high after sedation. A recent survey of the experiences and satisfaction of patients show that 99.5% of patients would take sedation again if they have a choice. Sedation in practice is carefully controlled. It is expected that practitioners must have had training in the administration of sedation. The South African Society of Anaesthesiologists drafted guidelines for sedation practitioners in 2010.
Sedation has become a viable alternative for general anaesthesia for certain procedures and can be administered to both adults and children.