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Learning About Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC)

What is monitored anesthesia care?

Monitored anesthesia care (MAC) means that an anesthesia specialist will care for you during your procedure. The specialist will make sure that you get the level of anesthesia you need to be comfortable. They'll also help keep you safe. They can change the type of anesthesia if needed. And they can help with any breathing trouble or other problems.

MAC is most often done when higher doses of sedative medicines are planned. So some people use the term "MAC" to describe sedation that makes you fall completely asleep.

What happens before surgery?

An anesthesia specialist will talk to you before the surgery. The specialist might ask about your health, past surgeries, medicine you take, and your family history, and your feelings about the surgery. They will help you decide if MAC is right for you.

You will get an IV, which lets medicine into your vein through a tube. You may get:

  • A sedative or anxiety medicine to help you relax.
  • Pain medicine. It can prevent pain during the surgery.

You might also get a shot to make the area near the surgery numb.

You will get a list of things to do to help you prepare for your surgery. You will learn about when to stop eating and drinking. If you take medicine, you will learn what you can and can't take before surgery.

You will be asked to sign a form that says you understand the risks of anesthesia. Before you sign it, your doctor will talk with you about sedation with MAC. Your doctor may talk about other types of anesthesia as well. You will learn about the risks and benefits of each type.

You may be told that the doctor may need to change from MAC to general anesthesia during surgery to keep you comfortable and safe.

Many people are nervous before they have surgery. Ask your doctor about ways to relax. These may include relaxation exercises or medicine.

What are the risks of anesthesia?

Major side effects aren't common. But all types of anesthesia have some risk. Your risk depends on your overall health. It also depends on the type of anesthesia you have and how you respond to it.

Serious but rare risks include breathing problems, heart attack, stroke, and a bad reaction to the medicine.Some health conditions increase the risk of problems. Your doctor will find out about any health problems you have that may affect your care.

Your doctor or nurse will closely watch your vital signs during surgery. This includes checking your breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. This may help you avoid problems from anesthesia.

What can you expect after having MAC?

  • Right after the surgery, you will be in the recovery room. Nurses will make sure you are safe and comfortable.
  • You may feel some of the effects of sedation with MAC for several hours.
    • If you had local or regional anesthesia, you may feel numb and have less feeling in part of your body. It may also take a few hours for you to be able to move and control your muscles as usual.
    • If you had local anesthesia along with MAC, you may feel some pain and discomfort as the anesthetic wears off. Tell someone if you have pain. Pain medicine works better if you take it before the pain gets bad.
    • If your sedation with MAC was switched to general anesthesia during surgery, you may be confused. Or it may be hard to think clearly. This is normal. It may take some time before the effects are completely gone.
  • For minor surgeries, you may go home the same day. For other surgeries, you may stay in the hospital. Your doctor will check on your recovery from the anesthesia. Your doctor will answer any questions you may have.
  • Don't do anything for 24 hours that requires attention to detail. This includes going to work or school, making important decisions, and signing any legal documents. It takes time for the medicine effects to completely wear off.
  • For your safety, do not drive or operate any machinery that could be dangerous until the medicine wears off and you can think clearly and react easily.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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