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Table 2 Definition of general anesthesia and levels of sedation*

From: World Health Organization-World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WHO-WFSA) International Standards for a Safe Practice of AnesthesiaNormes internationales pour une pratique sécuritaire de l’anesthésie de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé et de la Fédération mondiale des sociétés d’anesthésiologie (OMS-FMSA)

  General anesthesia Deep sedation Moderate sedation (“conscious sedation”) Minimal sedation (anxiolysis)
Responsiveness Unarousable even with painful stimulus Purposeful response following painful stimulation Purposeful response to voice or to tactile stimulation Normal response to verbal stimulation
Airway Intervention often required Intervention may be required No intervention required Unaffected
Breathing Frequently inadequate May be inadequate Adequate Unaffected
Circulation May be impaired Usually maintained Usually maintained Unaffected
  1. *Adapted from the American Society of Anesthesiologists definitions. Available from URL: (accessed February 2018)