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Wirral University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust


Intravenous sedation is the most common form of sedation and is the use of drugs through a cannula in a vein (a drip) to make you feel less anxious and it will often make you drowsy or sleepy. The drugs may actually make you sleep and the drugs can make you forget what has happened. Other ways of giving sedation is by inhaling – as gas and air or by swallowing a tablet or a liquid.

Sedation is a suitable way of keeping you relaxed during your procedure. It is used when you are undergoing an investigation or having surgery in combination with a local or regional anaesthetic. The aim of the sedation is to allow you to relax and not feel anxious or nervous during your operation. 

The benefits

Without sedation the operation or procedure would possibly cause you anxiety. Recovery is quick after sedation. For day surgery it normally means that you can go home earlier. 

A general anaesthetic can often be avoided by having sedation. You can even listen to your own music device during your procedure.

General reasons for having sedation:

  • When you feel very anxious or worried about a procedure or investigation
  • Where the procedure is short or involves only a small area of the body, this can be in combination with a local anaesthetic
  • Where the procedure is not very painful
  • When you are too unwell to safely receive a general or alternative anaesthetic, some procedures can still be performed under sedation in combination with a local anaesthetic.

Risks of sedation:

  • Headache, feeling sick or vomiting and having difficulty in remembering what happened during the treatment
  • Allergic reactions can occur whenever any medication is given
  • Deep sedation can sometimes affect your breathing and can lower your blood pressure.

During a procedure under sedation you will be monitored by an anaesthetist or health professional who will be able to treat these side effects.