Surgical Tip of the Week

#25 Sedation Emergencies

Respiratory depression must be distinguished from airway obstruction. The risk of respiratory depression is low with moderate sedation when compared to anatomical airway obstruction (tongue, tonsils, adenoids). Patients with airway obstruction can’t breathe. Patients with respiratory depression won’t breathe. Respiratory depression is a side effect of CNS depressants. All opioids and sedatives have the potential to depress hypercapnic or hypoxemic drives. Opioids are the most powerful respiratory depressants.