Levels of Sedation

Different levels of sedation are defined by the American Society of Anesthesiologists Practice Guidelines for Sedation and Analgesia by Non-Anesthesiologists.

Minimal Sedation (anxiolysis)

A drug-induced state during which patients respond normally to verbal commands. Although cognitive function and coordination may be impaired, ventilatory and cardiovascular functions are not.

Moderate sedation

A drug-induced depression of consciousness during which patients respond purposefully to verbal commands, either alone or accompanied by light tactile stimulation. No interventions are required to maintain a patent airway, and spontaneous ventilation is adequate. Cardiovascular function is usually maintained.

Deep sedation/analgesia

A drug-induced depression of consciousness during which patients cannot be aroused easily but respond purposefully following repeated or noxious stimulation. The ability to independently maintain ventilatory function and a patent airway may be compromised. Cardiovascular function is usually not impaired. A state of deep sedation may be accompanied by partial or complete loss of protective airway reflexes.

General anesthesia

General anesthesia is a drug-induced loss of consciousness during which patients are not arousable, even by painful stimulation. The ability to independently maintain ventilatory function is often impaired. Anesthetized patients often require assistance in maintaining a patent airway, and positive pressure ventilation may be required because of depressed spontaneous ventilation or drug-induced depression of neuromuscular function. Cardiovascular function may be impaired.