6 doctors weighed in:

What is sedation vs general anesthesia? What is the difference between being sedated and having general anesthesia?

6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Jaymin Chang
Anesthesiology
2 doctors agree

In brief: Consciousness

The difference is level of consciousness.
A patient under sedation should be able to respond to verbal or tactile stimuli. A patient under general anesthesia has complete loss of consciousness--he/she should have complete amnesia, be immobile, have no response to external stimuli, and have analgesia or absence of response to painful stimuli.

In brief: Consciousness

The difference is level of consciousness.
A patient under sedation should be able to respond to verbal or tactile stimuli. A patient under general anesthesia has complete loss of consciousness--he/she should have complete amnesia, be immobile, have no response to external stimuli, and have analgesia or absence of response to painful stimuli.
Dr. Jaymin Chang
Dr. Jaymin Chang
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Dr. Richard Pollard
Anesthesiology

In brief: Effects and depth

Twilight or sedation anesthesia is the application of sedatives to help the patient.
One of the concerns is that there will be too much anesthesia given and the patient will not be able to breathe. This is for smaller operations. General anesthesia puts the entire body to sleep, and lets the anesthesiologist take over so that a surgeon is able to perform their operation.

In brief: Effects and depth

Twilight or sedation anesthesia is the application of sedatives to help the patient.
One of the concerns is that there will be too much anesthesia given and the patient will not be able to breathe. This is for smaller operations. General anesthesia puts the entire body to sleep, and lets the anesthesiologist take over so that a surgeon is able to perform their operation.
Dr. Richard Pollard
Dr. Richard Pollard
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Dr. Cheyenne Babcock
Anesthesiology

In brief: This

This is a great question! the range of the effects of sedative/anesthetic drugs is characterized by patient alertness, airway control and breathing, and finally cardiovascular compromise (effects on blood pressure).
The definitions are somewhat general and the lines between different levels of sedation/anesthesia can be hard to find. Also, given that different people respond differently to medications, the goal level of sedation may be hard to reach or it may be easily passed. Then, one has to be able to adequately care for a patient that is sedated beyond what was anticipated. The american society of anesthesiologists recommends that if a provider intends to provide a certain level of sedation/anesthesia, then they should be trained, prepared and equipped to rescue the patient from the next deepest level of sedation, up to and including providing general anesthesia with airway control and artificial ventilation.

In brief: This

This is a great question! the range of the effects of sedative/anesthetic drugs is characterized by patient alertness, airway control and breathing, and finally cardiovascular compromise (effects on blood pressure).
The definitions are somewhat general and the lines between different levels of sedation/anesthesia can be hard to find. Also, given that different people respond differently to medications, the goal level of sedation may be hard to reach or it may be easily passed. Then, one has to be able to adequately care for a patient that is sedated beyond what was anticipated. The american society of anesthesiologists recommends that if a provider intends to provide a certain level of sedation/anesthesia, then they should be trained, prepared and equipped to rescue the patient from the next deepest level of sedation, up to and including providing general anesthesia with airway control and artificial ventilation.
Dr. Cheyenne Babcock
Dr. Cheyenne Babcock
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Dr. Ernesto Pretto
Anesthesiology

In brief: Level/consciousness

What differentiates sedation from general anesthesia is level of consciousness with spontaneous breathing.
The levels of sedation are: 1) light (awake, breathing spont., and responding to voice); 2) moderate (drowsy, breathing spont, but arousable only to touch); 3) deep (asleep, breathing but arousable only with painful stimulation). Anything beyond the above is general anesthesia.

In brief: Level/consciousness

What differentiates sedation from general anesthesia is level of consciousness with spontaneous breathing.
The levels of sedation are: 1) light (awake, breathing spont., and responding to voice); 2) moderate (drowsy, breathing spont, but arousable only to touch); 3) deep (asleep, breathing but arousable only with painful stimulation). Anything beyond the above is general anesthesia.
Dr. Ernesto Pretto
Dr. Ernesto Pretto
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