What Is Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC)?

MAC anesthesia is accomplished by giving you medications which help you relax during a minor procedure. This is different from general anesthesia because you remain breathing on your own during the procedure and do not have a breathing tube. Your doctor will monitor you throughout the procedure just the same as he or she would during general anesthesia.

What is the purpose?

The purpose of MAC anesthesia is to provide the patient with relief of discomfort and anxiety associated with the procedure. Although you will be able to respond to your doctors and nurses during the procedure, the medicines you receive will likely lead to you not remembering the procedure.

What procedures is it used for?

MAC anesthesia is used for uncomfortable procedures or minor surgeries that do not usually require general anesthesia. Examples of these are upper endocoscopy and colonoscopy, procedures done under radiologic guidance, and minor surgeries for which the patient needs to lie still for more that a few minutes.

What are the benefits?

The medicines used for MAC anesthesia work quickly and also wear off quickly. They allow for you to undergo the procedure in a safe manner. When the procedure is done, most patients are awake quickly afterward and do not get some of the side effects commonly associated with general anesthesia, such as nausea and feeling sleepy.

Written by: 
Jaime Ortiz, M.D. 
Daniel Tolpin, M.D. 
August 2010