Medical imaging has opened a world of possibilities when it comes to preventative health, diagnostics, and the treatment of illness and disease. Different procedures have their own unique processes. Some require the patient to be sedated. And even if this isn’t a requirement, some individuals experience anxiety or claustrophobia and prefer sedation for their procedure.
What does this look like with SDMI?
SDMI’S Sedation Policy: Medical Imaging Made Simple
Our sedation policy: Patients undergoing sedation must have a driver who can stay within 10 minutes of our facility, and we will ask for their contact information.
Our sedation policy exists to keep patients as safe as possible and also make their experience smooth and convenient. If a patient needs sedation, whether it’s due to the type of procedure or because of anxiety/claustrophobia, then they must have a responsible adult accompany and drive them to their appointment. This person must complete the Driver Contact Form at check-in, where we’ll also ask for their name and cell phone number. The patient’s driver must be within 10 minutes of SDMI’s facility at all times and be physically present when the patient is discharged.
Should the patient not have a responsible adult who can pick them up and drive them home, private transportation (like Uber) is acceptable. We do not release patients to public transportation after they’ve been sedated! Should they not be alert enough to leave, we welcome them to wait in the SDMI facility until they are cleared. We do this for your safety.
Following these guidelines helps us help you!
What Does it Mean to Be Sedated?
Sedative drugs put you in a calm and relaxed state of mind. Specifically, they slow down your brain activity. You’re not fully asleep. Rather, consider it a light sleep. You’re technically awake and even able to respond to stimulation, but you’ll likely be too sleepy to respond or to remember it when the sedation lifts.
Sedation helps keep patients comfortable during certain procedures. For example, SDMI sedates patients for port placement and removal. During this procedure, we place the filter to trap large blood clot fragments and stop them from traveling to the heart and lungs, which can be deadly. With sedation, you remain awake but very relaxed and sleepy.
Sedation can also be made available to individuals who experience anxiety or claustrophobia in enclosed or tight-fitting areas. This anxiety can be incredibly overwhelming and make it next to impossible for the individual to relax and remain calm.
In this case, patients sometimes benefit from sedation for procedures like MRIs.
How Does Sedation Work?
The exact details depend on a number of factors, like the procedure you’re getting done. There are also different types of sedatives.
SDMI offers two types of sedation: oral (valium) and IV. Special procedures like a port placement automatically get IV placement. With MRIs, oral sedation is offered unless IV sedation is specifically ordered by the referring physician, or if the patient attempted oral sedation and was unable to do it.
What does sedation do to your body? These drugs change certain nerve communications in your central nervous system to your brain. And in slowing down your brain activity, they help to calm you down. This happens thanks to a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). By increasing the level of GABA activity in your central nervous system, sedative drugs make it possible for the neurotransmitter to act more significantly on your brain.
Are There Any Side Effects After Waking Up from Sedation?
The most common side effect of sedative drugs, particularly via IV sedation, is feeling groggy for a few hours afterward. (Plan to rest the remainder of the day!) Some patients might have a headache or experience slight nausea. However, for most people, this only lasts for a few hours, at most. Because of the state that sedative drugs put you in, you likely won’t remember any part of your procedure once you’ve woken up. Some patients have very vague memories, where they can remember hearing voices but can’t recall what was said or who said it.
Remember that we all respond to drugs differently. So, your experience with sedation might be slightly different from someone else’s. Be sure to let your doctor know if you’re pregnant, have a respiratory disease, or are taking any medication, as these might change the details surrounding your procedure.
Is Sedation the Same as Anesthesia?
Yes and no. Let’s elaborate.
Technically, general anesthesia is a type of sedation. In fact, there are several types. Minimal sedation means that you’re relaxed and drowsy, but your body sensations are mostly the same. Moderate sedation means you’re semi-conscious, you can breathe by yourself, and you’re able to respond to stimulation. This is the most common type of sedation for procedures.
With deep sedation, you’re almost unconscious and may need help breathing. And finally, there’s general anesthesia, where you’re completely unconscious. At this point, the body needs breathing assistance and their heart function might also be impacted.
So, yes — sedation can mean anesthesia, although it can mean other stages of drowsiness, too. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure what level of sedation you’ll experience for your procedure.
Sedation exists to both allow medical professionals to safely perform imaging procedures and also to keep the patient calm, stable, and secure. There’s nothing to be afraid of. On the contrary, sedation can help make your imaging procedure much more pleasant.