There are various levels of sedation that are used depending on the patient and his/her medical history, as well as the type of surgical procedure. Your anesthesia provider has the option and experience needed to adjust the level of sedation as needed throughout the procedure.
Very mild sedation during which patients respond normally to verbal commands. This level of sedation helps people feel relaxed, but they usually still feel awake. Thus, it is usually only used for minor procedures that cause little pain or discomfort.
A level of sedation where people receive enough medication to feel very relaxed or sleepy, but can still respond purposefully to verbal or tactile (touch) stimulation. Patients may or may not remember some or all of the procedure.
This level of sedation makes people so sleepy that they do not respond purposefully unless there is a strong, painful stimulation. Although it is possible to be aware and remember some things while under deep sedation, most patients usually have no memory of their procedures if deep sedation is used.
The level of sedation used for your procedure will be determined by your anesthesia provider. He or she will make this decision based on the type of procedure you are having and your health status. Your anesthesia provider has years of experience for knowing how to tailor your sedation level to your safety, comfort, and the needs of your surgeon or proceduralist.
You may also be interested to know that along with providing deeper “sleep,” the deeper levels of sedation have more risk. The more deeply that a patient is sedated, the more likely he or she will need help from the anesthesia provider to maintain a good breathing pattern and good blood pressure. Also, it is possible that a patient’s level of sedation may move beyond the intended level to the next stage where the risk is greater. Rest assured that all anesthesia professionals are trained to provide all levels of sedation and beyond sedation to the point of general anesthesia.
What is MAC?
Monitored Anesthesia Care or MAC is not a level of sedation. It is a service in which an anesthesia provider monitors a patient during a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure. He or she may also administer medication (and often does) to a patient to provide sedation during the procedure. In some rare instances, however, no sedation medication is given while the anesthesia provider monitors the patient.