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Sedation and
Pain Management

Making your diagnostic exam comfortable.

Everyone on your ARA exam team wants you to have a great experience and feel relaxed and comfortable while you are having your exam. If you are very anxious or have a condition that could make it painful to stay in one position for an extended period of time, please talk to your scheduler about how we can help you.

Keep in mind that everyone at ARA that will assist you during your exam is very good at helping you relax and have the best experience possible, so even if you are anxious, you may not need sedation.

If you do choose sedation, it will make you sleepy, help you relax, and lessen your discomfort or pain. You will feel drowsy but can still follow instructions, such as holding your breath while an image is taken.

You cannot drive yourself home after having sedation, so make sure and arrange to have a friend or family member available to drive you home.

Sedation medicine will make you sleepy, help you relax, and lessen your discomfort/pain. You will feel drowsy but can still follow instructions, such as holding your breath while an image is taken.

If you have light sedation:

  • You will receive sedation medication to help you relax and control pain.
  • The medicine will be either a tablet you will swallow or you may receive it through an intramuscular injection.

If you have moderate sedation:

  • Your technologist or paramedic will give you the sedation medicine through an IV (intravenous) line in your hand or arm before and during your procedure or exam.
  • You may receive more than one dose of sedation medicine.

Steps in the Sedation Procedure

  • A staff member will do a health assessment. A family member or friend can be with you.
  • You may have an intravenous (IV) line started if you will receive sedation medicine through a vein or if IV contrast is ordered for your exam.
  • A technologist or paramedic will talk with you about the risks and benefits of the sedation. Please ask any questions you may have.
  • The medical team will ask you to confirm your name and birthday and review your sedation, procedure, or exam. This is for your safety.

In the vast majority of cases, no sedation is needed for diagnostic exams. Some people may want light sedation for certain exams, for instance, if they are extremely claustrophobic or cannot remain still.

Before your procedure, we will assess your health to determine the type of sedation that will be best for you. For very few people, sedation is not safe. You may be advised to have general anesthesia in the hospital setting if you:

  • Have needed anesthesia for basic procedures in the past.
  • Have chronic breathing problems.
  • Use high doses of prescription pain medicines, such as opioids.
  • Have severe heart, lung, or kidney disease.
  • Have had a bad reaction to conscious sedation in the past.
  • Know that you have problems with your airway or swallowing or a limited mouth opening.
  • Have a mass (such as a cyst or tumor) in your neck.
  • Have an enlarged tongue or tonsils that cannot be seen.
  • You cannot lie flat on your back for about 1 hour because of pain or breathing problems
  • Have a hard time lying still during medical procedures.
  • Weigh more than 300 pounds (136 kilograms)

Starting 4 hours before your arrival:

  • Stop eating solid foods.
  • Stop drinking fluids. You may take your regular medication with small sips of clear liquids (liquid you can see through), such as water, Sprite, apple juice, or cranberry juice.
  • Stop any pain or sedative type of medications that are prescribed “as needed.”

On the day of your sedation

  • Take all of your scheduled medicines on the day of your procedure. Do not skip them unless your doctor tells you to. We suggest not taking vitamins and supplements on the day you will have sedation. They may upset an empty stomach.
  • Bring a list of all the medicines you take.
  • You must have a responsible adult to drive you home after your procedure. You cannot drive yourself home or take a bus, taxi, or shuttle by yourself.
  • After you get home, we recommend that someone stay with you for the rest of the day.
  • You will stay in the recovery room and be monitored for a minimum of 30 minutes for light sedation and a minimum of one hour for moderate sedation until you are fully awake.
  • You will be given juice and crackers to ensure you are able to tolerate eating and drinking.
  • A friend or family member may be with you during this time.

During this time:

  • We will give you instructions for self-care at home.
  • You may not remember much about your procedure or exam. This is normal.
  • Most patients can eat and drink once they are fully awake.

You will be allowed to leave when:

  • You are awake and alert.
  • You can use the restroom and walk.
  • A responsible adult is there to take you home.
  • You have met the required recovery time.

For 12 hours after your procedure, do not:

  • Drive/use machinery
  • Sign important papers
  • Drink alcohol
  • Be responsible for the care of another person
  • Take any pain or sedative-type medications that are prescribed “as needed”

Your questions are important. For more information, please contact the ARA imaging center where you are having your exam.


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