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Once referred to as "twilight sleep," the term "conscious sedation" (more appropriately called "sedation analgesia") has become popular to describe a semi-conscious state that allows patients to be comfortable during certain surgical or medical procedures. There is no universal agreement on the meaning of these terms, however.
Analgesia refers to the relief of pain that is often included in sedation techniques. Sedation analgesia can provide pain relief as well as relief of anxiety that may accompany some treatments or diagnostic tests. It involves using medications for many types of procedures without using general anesthesia, which causes complete unconsciousness.
Conscious sedation is a type of sedation used to help patients feel relaxed enough to get through a minor procedure, like a biopsy. It can also be used for somewhat lengthy imaging studies, like MRIs. The sedation is light enough that a patient can follow commands and answer questions even though they might not remember it. It is also light enough that the patient can protect their own airway.
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