The Different Types of Anesthesia

26 Sep

Types of Anesthesia

If you are having surgery or other medical procedures that create pain or discomfort, chance are your doctor will be giving you a drug called an anesthetic. These drugs will reduce or rid the patient of pain.

Your anesthesiologist will choose the type of anesthesia used in your procedure based upon several factors:

Your current health and health history. Your medical professional will consider previous surgeries you may have had. They will also consider current and past health problems, such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. You also will be asked whether you or anyone in your family has had an allergic reaction to any anesthetics or other medicines.

They will also consider your reason for surgery and the type of surgery. In addition, they will look at the results of tests, such as blood tests or an electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG).

Anesthesia is effective when it has at least one of four effects on you: relaxes you, blocks pain, sleepy or forgetful, or unconscious during the medical procedure.

While the type of anesthesia your doctor chooses depends on many factors, there are four main types that they can choose from:

Local anesthesia – A local anesthetic numbs a small part of the body. During the procedure you will be awake and alert.

Regional anesthesia – This kind of anesthesia blocks pain in a larger area of the body, such as an arm or leg. Anesthetic is injected around major nerves or the spinal cord. You may get medicine to help you relax or sleep.

The following are two major types of regional anesthesia:

– Peripheral nerve blocks. This type of regional anesthesia comes in the form of a shot near a nerve or group of nerves. It blocks pain supplied by the nerve or nerves in a given part of the body. Nerve blocks are usually used in procedures on your limbs (hands, arms, feet, legs) or face.

– Epidural and spinal anesthesia. It blocks pain from an entire region of the body, such as the belly, hips, or legs. The shot of anesthesia is near the spinal cord and the nerves that connect to it. Epidural anesthesia is sometimes used during childbirth.

General anesthesia – During a procedure with general anesthesia, you are unconscious for the duration. It affects your whole body, so you go to sleep and will not feel a thing. There are a number of drugs used for general anesthesia. Some of them are gases or vapors inhaled through a breathing mask or tube, while other general anesthetics are introduced intravenously.

Anesthesia Risks

Modern medicine has come a long way over the decades, and as such, the chances of major side effects as a result of anesthesia use are very uncommon. But, there is always the possibility.

Your medical professional will watch your vital signs closely, including your blood pressure and heart rate, during the anesthesia process and surgery to minimize the chances for most problems.