Given the continued increase in the complexity of invasive and noninvasive procedures, healthcare practitioners are faced with a larger number of patients requiring procedural sedation. Effective sedation and analgesia during procedures not only provides relief of suffering, but also frequently facilitates the successful and timely completion of the procedure. However, any of the agents used for sedation and/or analgesia may result in adverse effects. These adverse effects most often affect upper airway patency, ventilatory function or the cardiovascular system. This manuscript reviews the pharmacology of the most commonly used agents for sedation and outlines their primary effects on respiratory and cardiovascular function. Suggested guidelines for the avoidance of adverse effects through appropriate pre-sedation evaluation, early identification of changes in respiratory and cardiovascular function, and their treatment are outlined.
Keywords: Dexmedetomidine; ketamine; procedural sedation; propofol; respiratory depression.