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IV Sedation (IV) versus Local Anaesthetic (LA)

IV Sedation (IV) versus Local Anaesthetic (LA)

There seems to be quite a lot of debate regarding what type of anaesthetic to have for vasectomy. Some doctors only provide IV sedation in a hospital and some only offer local anaesthetic in a GP Clinic and believe that IV Sedation is not necessary.

At MSI Australia we provide a comprehensive service where both IV sedation and local anaesthetic are available across the country. This is because both options are valid and need to be offered to cover the wide range of clients and their needs. Let’s explore further.

What is IV sedation and who is it for?

IV Sedation is an intravenous form of anaesthetic where a needle is used to put a thin plastic tube into a vein in the back of your hand or arm. Small amounts of medicine are given to make you relaxed and sleepy. In most cases, you will not be aware during the procedure, or remember it afterwards. This is different to a General Anaesthetic (GA) where breathing gases are used and masks or tubes are used to assist breathing.

Anyone can choose to have IV Sedation for their vasectomy and many men simply prefer to be “knocked out” as they know they will not handle being awake for the procedure well. Other men may have had previous inguinal hernia or scrotal surgery in which case we recommend them to have IV sedation as there is a chance that old scar tissue will make the vasectomy under LA difficult and may even mean the LA operation is postponed to a later date for the needed IV sedation. All men who have had a previous vasectomy in the past we insist on them having IV sedation for the same reasons.

Around 25-30% of our patients nationally choose IV sedation and around 70-75% chose LA so don’t feel like you are the odd one out if you choose IV sedation.

A specially trained sedationist doctor or anaesthetist will check your health and discuss sedation and any risks on the day. This doctor will give you your sedation and look after you during your procedure. IV sedation is not suitable if you have had previous reactions to iv anaesthetic or if you have serious heart or lung disease.

Please tell the doctor if you have ever had any problems with previous anaesthetics or any heart or lung diseases.

Modern sedation is generally very safe but there some risks.



It is important to remember that if you choose IV sedation then you will need to fast prior to the procedure and you will need to have another person drive you home on the day as you cannot drive for 24 hours after the anaesthetic. See further information here.

What is Local Anaesthetic (LA) and who is it for?

Local anaesthetic is where a small amount of medication is injected into the skin and tissues beneath the skin to deaden the area for a pain-free operation. The deadening usually lasts for 30 minutes but at MSI Australia we use a long acting LA as well which leads to deadening for up to 5 hours or more. When the needle is introduced there can be a small pin-prick feeling but a pain-free needle technique we use results in many men not feeling the needle at all.

LA is for anyone who chooses it and there is no need to fast or to have someone else drive you home. It is also for anyone who cannot have IV sedation because of a past reaction or a heart or lung disease. Very rarely some people will feel some faintness even up to an hour or 2 after any procedure under LA so you still need to be aware of this and be careful driving home.

What is the cost difference?

At MSI Australia we are one of the only vasectomy providers offering minimal or no gap with Private Health Insurance (PHI) for both IV Sedation and Local Anaesthetic in a private Day Hospital. See these FAQs for more detail on PHI use at our Day Hospital network.

Therefore if you have PHI Hospital cover then you will only pay a maximum of $100 gap plus any excess applicable under your policy for all your doctor and hospital costs for your vasectomy for both IV Sedation and Local Anaesthetic which is pretty amazing.

If you do not have PHI no problem, you can still access exactly the same quality services with the price for LA ranging from $480 out of pocket in a Medical Centre to $690-$1,050 in a Day Hospital. With IV sedation the price range is from $750 to $1,250 in a Day Hospital which is still much more affordable than many other options in the marketplace.

About the Author

About the Author

Dr Justin Low

Justin received his medical degree from the University of Sydney in 1987 and completed the RACGP Family Medicine Program (FMP) in 1991. He became a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in 1993. He received a Certificate of Recognition from the Australian Teleservices Association in 2012 for his work in telemedicine and has had extensive surgical and emergency medicine experience in the hospital system.

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