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Twilight anesthesia is a type of anesthetic technique in which the patient is sedated but not unconscious. It is used for a variety of surgical procedures and for an assortment of reasons. Just like regular anesthesia, twilight anesthesia is designed to make a patient feel more comfortable and to minimize the pain associated with the procedure being performed. This technique carries fewer risks than general anesthesia, making it a popular choice among patients and surgeons for simple medical procedures. As with any anesthesia, twilight anesthesia should always be performed by a certified anesthesiologist, who will interview the patient before the procedure and monitor the patient's health while he or she is under anesthesia.
This type of anesthesia is also known as twilight sedation, intravenous (IV) sedation and conscious sedation. The anesthesia relieves anxiety on the part of the patient and creates a state of amnesia so that the patient will not remember the procedure later. Many of the drugs used to induce twilight anesthesia are the same as those used in general anesthesia, but the dosages are much lower. Among the drugs that might be administered intravenously are midazolam, fentanyl, valium, ketamine or a type of benzodiazepine. Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, might be administered instead by having the patient inhale it.
A local or regional anesthetic is always applied to the area on which the operation is being performed. This anesthetic ensures that the patient will not feel pain during the procedure. Depending on the level of sedation, the patient might be awake enough to talk with members of the surgical staff, which can be extremely useful for some procedures. In other case, the patient remains in a state of light sleep while the surgery is performed. The drugs used in twilight anesthesia act quickly can can be reversed quickly, so the patient can be woken up in a matter of minutes.
Risks and Concerns
As with any medical procedure, there are risks involved with twilight anesthesia. Some side effects that might be experienced after twilight sedation include dizziness, low blood pressure, nausea and blurred vision. Drug allergies or interactions also might cause an unfavorable result. This is why it is important for a patient to pay attention during the pre-surgical interview and to submit to blood work so that medical professionals can look for potential problem areas. People who experience extreme anxiety or claustrophobia should make this known to the anesthesiologist, who might choose to use a deeper level of sedation on these patients.
Patients who are interested in twilight anesthesia should discuss it with their surgeons. As a general rule, if a procedure is eligible for twilight sedation, the surgeon will recommend it. There might be a reason why twilight anesthesia is not suitable for a particular surgery. When this is the case, the surgeon or anesthesiologist will discuss the available options with the patient.