Sedation or Pain Management for Your Radiology Exam

What Does Sedation Do?

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 medicine 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 nurse/paramedic will give you the sedation medicine through an IV (intravenous) tube before and during your procedure or exam.
• You may receive more than one dose of sedation medicines.

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 nurse/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 will review your sedation and procedure or exam. This is for your safety.

What Sedation Is Best for You?

Before your procedure, we will assess your health to determine the type of sedation that will be best for you. For some people, sedation is not safe. You may be advised to have general anesthesia in the hospital setting. (Medicine that blocks feeling and makes you sleep) if you:
• Have needed anesthesia for basic procedures in the past. Examples of 2 basic procedures are an endoscopy (using a tube with a camera on it to look inside your body) or certain radiology procedures.
• Have sleep apnea or chronic breathing problems (you might use a CPAP or BiPAP device while you are sleeping)
• 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 with swallowing, or you have 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
• Cannot lie flat on your back for about 1 hour because of back or breathing problems
• Have a hard time lying still during medical procedures
• Weigh more than 300 pounds (136 kilograms)

Preparing for Your Sedation

Starting 4 hours before your arrival:
• Stop eating solid foods.
• Stop drinking fluids.  You may have small sips of clear liquids (liquid you can see through) such as water, Sprite, apple juice, or cranberry juice, to take your regular medication.
• 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 or nurse 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 the rest of the day.

After Your Sedation


• You will stay in the recovery room and be monitored for a minimum of 30 minutes for light sedation, and a minimum of 1 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.
• Your responsible person is there to take you home.
• You have met the required recovery time.

Important Precautions at Home

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. Please contact the ARA clinic where you are having your exam for more information.

Austin Center Blvd. – (512) 795-8505
Cedar Park & Cedar Park Women’s Imaging – (512) 485-7199
Children’s Imaging Center – (512) 480-0761
Dripping Springs – (512) 776-1176
Georgetown – (512) 863-4648
Kyle & Kyle Women’s Imaging – (512) 776-1150
Medical Park Tower – (512) 454-7380
Midtown / Austin Vein Center – (512) 519-3456
Quarry Lake – (512) 519-3402
Rock Creek Plaza – (512) 238-7195
San Marcos – (512) 392-1831
Southwest Medical Village – (512) 519-3474
Southwood – (512) 428-9090
Westlake – (512) 328-4984
William Cannon – (512) 346-7311
Wilson Parke – (512) 519-3457
Women’s Imaging Center – Central – (512) 275-0013