MAC anesthesia — also called monitored anesthesia care or MAC, is a type of anesthesia service during which a patient is typically still aware, but very relaxed.

The amount of sedation provided during MAC is determined by the anesthesia professional (physician anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist) providing the care.

A patient may be only lightly sedated, moderately sedated, or deeply sedated to the point that they’re completely unaware of the procedure. The patient may not even remember any events during the procedure.

The level of sedation administered depends on the health of the patient and the type of surgical or diagnostic procedure being done. This type of anesthesia is typically used for outpatient procedures where the patient will be going home once the anesthesia wears off.

Medications used during MAC include:

  • midazolam (Versed)
  • fentanyl
  • propofol (Diprivan)

Monitored anesthesia care is the first choice in 10 to 30% of all surgical procedures. It’s typically used for quick surgical procedures.

MAC is called monitored anesthesia care because a patient’s vitals are constantly monitored to assess pain control and vital functions. Surgical procedures that use MAC include:

Before a surgery that requires anesthesia, an anesthesiologist will speak with you. They’ll ask you about your current health, family history, and previous experiences with anesthesia.

If you’ve any questions to ask about MAC, make sure you discuss these with your anesthesiologist before your surgery. Once your questions have been answered, you’ll be asked to sign a form that states that you’ve been notified and understand the risks of the anesthetic.

Prior to entering the area where the surgery will be performed, you’ll typically get an intravenous (IV) catheter inserted in your vein. You’ll receive fluids, sedative medications, and pain medications through this IV catheter.

The level of sedation you receive depends on the surgery you’re having. If heavier sedation is required, you’ll likely feel as if you’re falling asleep, and you won’t remember the surgery.

If the sedation is light, you may feel silly or sleepy but very calm. Lighter sedation is typically used to keep you calm through the procedure, but it won’t inhibit your ability to answer questions or follow basic commands.

Side effects for monitored anesthesia care are usually minimum. There are cases where one can be allergic to anesthesia, but the anesthesiologist will work to monitor your reaction upon administration. Common side effects include:

Rare risks occur when you have an adverse reaction to the anesthetic used. Severe risks include:

MAC anesthesia is commonly used in outpatient surgery. If your surgery is minor, it’s likely that MAC will be used. You can expect to feel slightly drowsy coming off of MAC, but otherwise the anesthesia will help you to feel calm or unaware of the pain of the surgery.

Be sure to follow all aftercare instructions post-operation in order to make a full recovery. You may also want to arrange transportation home, prior to your surgery, in case you feel drowsy or have other side effects from the anesthesia.