What is anesthesia?
Anesthesia is the use of medicines to prevent pain during surgery and other procedures. These medicines are called anesthetics. They may be given by injection, inhalation, topical lotion, spray, eye drops, or skin patch. They cause you to have a loss of feeling or awareness.
What is anesthesia used for?
In some cases, a dentist, nurse, or doctor may give you an anesthetic. In other cases, you may need an anesthesiologist. This is a doctor who specializes in giving anesthesia.
What are the types of anesthesia?
There are several different types of anesthesia:
- Local anesthesia numbs a small part of the body. It might be used on a tooth that needs to be pulled or on a small area around a wound that needs stitches. You are awake and alert during local anesthesia.
- Regional anesthesia is used for larger areas of the body such as an arm, a leg, or everything below the waist. You may be awake during the procedure, or you may be given sedation. Regional anesthesia may be used during childbirth, a Cesarean section(C-section), or minor surgeries.
- General anesthesia affects the whole body. It makes you unconscious and unable to move. It is used during major surgeries, such as heart surgery, brain surgery, back surgery, and organ transplants.
What are the risks of anesthesia?
Anesthesia is generally safe. But there can be risks, especially with general anesthesia, including:
- Heart rhythm or breathing problems
- An allergic reaction to the anesthesia
- Delirium after general anesthesia. Delirium makes people confused. They may be unclear about what is happening to them. Some people over the age of 60 have delirium for several days after surgery. It can also happen to children when they first wake up from anesthesia.
- Awareness when someone is under general anesthesia. This usually means that the person hears sounds. But sometimes they can feel pain. This is rare.
- Anesthesia Basics (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation)
- General Anesthesia (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Going Under: A Closer Look at Anesthesia (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Types of Anesthesia (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- What Is Anesthesia? (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
Treatments and Therapies
- Herbal Products and Your Anesthestic (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists)
- After Anesthesia: The Patient's Active Role Assists in Recovery (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists)
- Anesthesia Awareness (Waking Up) During Surgery (American Society of Anesthesiologists)
- Before Anesthesia: The Patient's Active Role Makes a Difference (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists)
- Down Syndrome: Co-Occuring Conditions (National Down Syndrome Society)
- Effects of Anesthesia (American Society of Anesthesiologists)
- Pre-Anesthesia Questionnaire (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists) - PDF
- Role of the Physician Anesthesiologist (American Society of Anesthesiologists)
- Spinal Headaches (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Anesthesia (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: The effect of anesthesia on the magnitude of the postoperative systemic...
- Article: Inappropriate screening of obstructive coronary artery disease during pre-anesthesia assessment of...
- Article: Handmaidens and pioneers: Three female anaesthetists and their contribution to anaesthesia...
- Anesthesia -- see more articles
- Anesthesia -- What to Expect (For Teens) (Nemours Foundation)
- Labor Pain (American Society of Anesthesiologists)
- Seniors: Surgery Risks and Anesthesia Complications (American Society of Anesthesiologists)