Anesthesia means lack of sensation. It prevents you from feeling any pain during your surgery or medical procedure. Normally, nerves from every part of the body send signals to the spinal cord. The spinal cord relays these messages to the brain, which then interprets the signals as pain or other sensations. Anesthesia temporarily interrupts this relay system.
A doctor who specializes in anesthesia, called an anesthesiologist, will design your anesthetic based on your body composition and your personal health history. Your anesthesiologist will closely monitor you before, during and after your surgery.
There are three main types of anesthesia: general, regional and local. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will determine the appropriate type of anesthesia needed for your procedure.
- General Anesthesia — Induces a total loss of consciousness and lack of ability to feel pain. General anesthesia uses a combination of medications administered intravenously and gases administered through a face mask or breathing tube. The anesthesiologist uses anesthesia equipment and instruments to monitor and manage your vital signs continuously throughout the time you are under general anesthesia until you safely recover.
- Regional Anesthesia — Blocks pain to a large part or region of your body. Regional anesthesia can include spinal, epidural and peripheral nerve blocks. Your anesthesiologist injects medication near a cluster of nerves to numb only the area of your body that requires surgery. You may also receive medication to help you relax or sleep during the procedure.
- Local Anesthesia — Provides numbness to a very limited part of the body for minor procedures. In most circumstances, your surgeon will administer the local anesthetic, and an anesthesiologist will not be present unless your physical condition warrants close monitoring.
- Frequently Asked Questions — For more information about anesthesia services, pain management and how to prepare for your procedure, you can read these commonly asked questions about anesthesia. If you have any additional questions about the anesthesia that will be used for your specific surgery or procedure, please contact your doctor or anesthesiologist.