Anesthesia (an-iss-thee-zuh) is medicine to make you comfortable during surgery or a procedure. There are many types of anesthesia. The anesthesia medicine may be given in your IV, through a face mask, or through a tube in your nose or throat. It can also be given as a shot in your back or as a shot in the area where you will have surgery. The type of anesthesia you may have depends on the type of surgery or procedure you are having. You and your caregiver will decide which type of anesthesia is best for you. Following are some of the types of anesthesia.

Methods of Anesthesia

General Anesthesia is a complete loss of consciousness administered by injection and/or inhalation of anesthetic medications. A patient experiences a loss of sensation and total relaxation to the entire body under general anesthesia.

Local Anesthesia is the numbing of a small area of the body either through an injection or a numbing agent in order to perform a pain free procedure to a patient without loss of consciousness. The anesthetic is applied or injected directly to the surgical area.

Regional Anesthesia blocks painful sensations from a region of the body causing a lack of motor control and muscle relaxation. With regional anesthesia, the patient is unaware of their surroundings. The most common regional anesthetic is Lidocaine. Regional anesthesia if often used in conjunction with a sedative to enhance comfort and reduce anxiety. Spinal, epidural and nerve blocks are forms of regional anesthesia.

Spinal Anesthesia is performed when a local anesthetic is injected in the spinal fluid producing numbness in the abdomen, pelvic region and lower extremities. The spinal anesthetic usually lasts from one to six hours.

Epidural Anesthesia is the injection of local anesthetics and painkillers into the spinal fluid that surrounds the spinal cord. If needed, the epidural may remain implanted for up to five days following surgery.

Peripheral Nerve Blocks is an injection of a local anesthetic into the nerve of either the arm or leg depending on the surgical site. The nerve block requires a loss of sensation in the limb receiving surgery. Nerve blocks are used for either surgery or post operative pain relief.

Conscious Sedation involves receiving medication intravenously for relaxation during the procedure. Conscious sedation is an altered level of consciousness where the patient’s pain and discomfort is minimal while the patient is alert. This type of anesthesia may be used in situations where the surgery requires patient participation. While many patients will not remember the procedure and/or any associated discomfort when conscious sedation is used, there can be no guarantee of this; hence the term “conscious” is commonly used. Most frequently, the medications used are narcotics: Demerol or Fentanyl and an anti-anxiety medication known as Versed (similar to Valium).

Deep IV Sedation is a temporary state of semi-consciousness usually induced by medications. Deep IV sedation causes a partial loss of sensory perception and the inability to respond to verbal prompts. Propofol is the most common drug of choice for procedures with deep sedation. When administered by an anesthesiologist, Propofol is an extremely safe and modern drug that will ensure comfortability with no recollection of the procedure.