Why couldn't the physicians put the patient under during the procedure?

  • 1
    I would imagine it's for two reasons: (1) the patient generally won't experience pain during this procedure, so what's the need for general anesthetic?, and (2) if there's a complication during the procedure, and the patient is awake, they can communicate to the physician what they're experiencing, which will then allow the physician to resolve the situation more quickly (assuming the description provided by the patient is detailed and accurate enough). This is mostly speculation though.
    – user11108
    Sep 16, 2017 at 12:05
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this topic isn't about biology, it's about protocols during a clinical procedure. I'd recommend trying at Health.SE. (note: it could be possible to make a question like this about biology, but you would need more research effort to show interest in a mechanism first to better tailor the question)
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 16, 2017 at 14:41
  • They can and they do. Cardiac catheterization is performed for many very different reasons. In some cases general anesthesia is routine, but not so in others, and for very good reasons in both cases. So it's unclear what you're asking.
    – Carey Gregory
    Nov 30, 2019 at 5:52
  • @BryanKrause can you explain what you mean by "need more research effort to show interest in a mechanism"?
    – Larry To
    Sep 18, 2020 at 3:58

1 Answer 1


There are a couple reasons it's not preferred.

The procedure is not extremely invasive or very painful and can usually be tolerated awake. Most procedures that CAN be tolerated awake ARE done awake. General anesthesia has more risks than just anesthetic locally and an anxiolytic to relax the patient. It often requires airway protection (e.g. MAC or intubation) which also carries risks, and generally requires anesthesiology present in the room.

Sometimes if there is concern that the patient cannot handle it and would move excessively due to anxiety or such, then they may do moderate/general anesthesia on a case by case basis.

This is not something I could specifically find, but I can theorize that if there were to be disruption of an atherosclerotic plaque resulting in stroke, rare but a potential risk of the procedure, then the physician could identify signs of stroke far better when the patient is awake then when asleep. Interventions to treat stroke are time-sensitive ("time is brain" is the saying) so a delay could have serious results.


  • 2
    There's an unstated assumption here that the catheterization is for a short, painless procedure such as placing a stent or angioplasty, in which case anesthesia isn't usually used, but catheterization is also used to perform cardiac ablations, which are often long and potentially painful procedures requiring absolutely no movement by the patient. At least in the US, general anesthesia is almost always used for these procedures.
    – Carey Gregory
    Mar 18, 2019 at 14:15

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