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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Surgeries and Procedures > Anesthesia


Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Home Care and Complications

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:

  • general anesthesia
  • epidural anesthesia
  • spinal anesthesia
  • topical anesthesia
  • regional anesthesia
  • local anesthesia
  • dissociative anesthesia
  • There are other, less common, forms of anesthesia that can be used in certain situations.

    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 the 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.


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    Anesthesia: Preparation & Expectations

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/05/01

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