Anesthesia means a loss of feeling or pain. The term anesthesia is also used to
describe medication to prevent feelings of pain
during a surgery or other procedure.
Who is a candidate for the procedure?
A person who is having a painful procedure may need anesthesia. The procedure
may range from getting stitches for a cut to open heart surgery.
How is the procedure performed?
There are many different types of anesthesia and ways to give the medications.
Common examples include:
There are other, less common, forms of anesthesia that can be used in certain
General anesthesia is a type of
anesthesia which puts the person to sleep. The person is made unconscious with
medications that are breathed into the lungs or injected into the veins. In
general anesthesia, a person is also temporarily paralyzed with medications. A
person has no memory of the surgery when he or she wakes up. General anesthesia is
used for most major operations.
Epidural anesthesia and spinal anesthesia both involve injecting
medications into the spinal column. The medications act directly on the spinal
cord and nerves to stop the feeling of pain. A person is generally awake during
the procedure. These types of anesthesia are commonly used during childbirth
and with surgeries below the belly button.
Regional anesthesia, local anesthesia, or topical anesthesia involve injecting medication into
skin or rubbing it onto the skin near the site of the procedure. This causes
numbing. Regional anesthesia involves numbing a large area, such as the entire
hand or leg. Local or topical anesthesias are used before small procedures,
such as putting stitches into a cut.