Call GA What It Is, Not Just “A Little Sedation”

Rod Xuereb, MD

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to Dr. Balaklaw’s letter about “a little sedation.” I certainly agree that the term is misleading and is in fact often referring to a short IV general anesthetic. However, I find no problem with the procedure itself.

If patients are told that they will be “put to sleep” for a few minutes so that they don’t feel the block there should be no problem with doing just that. Most people want to get the procedure over, feel no pain, and feel good afterward. These goals are easily reached with a short IV anesthetic.

There are risks with all anesthetics. If your patients are kept NPO, and supplemental oxygen is used, this format is no greater risk than any other GA for another procedure. Obviously discretion must be used for those at high risk for aspiration.

Semantics are important. We need to give the patient the desired result, do it safely, and not be afraid to call it what it really is.

Rod Xuereb, MD
Valley Anesthesia Associates
Renton, WA