What is the sedation continuum?

Updated: May 08, 2018
  • Author: Wan-Tsu Wendy Chang, MD; Chief Editor: Ted Rosenkrantz, MD  more...
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Although analgesia, anesthesia, and sedation are sometimes conflated, the 3 terms are not synonymous. Anesthesia may include any of the following components:

  • Analgesia

  • Sedation

  • Amnesia

  • Muscle relaxation

Sedation is a continuum. Conscious sedation (in which the patient remains awake) may lead to deep sedation. Deep sedation, in turn, may lead to general anesthesia, which may lead to cardiorespiratory compromise and loss of airway protective reflexes.

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