Anesthesia is medication that blocks pain and sensation during surgery. Anesthesiologists are critical members of your care team. They will determine the appropriate type and amount of anesthesia to administer during your surgery. Anesthesiologists also help to ensure a successful surgery by constantly monitoring and managing the slightest changes in any of your body functions.
The various types of anesthesia include:
- Local anesthesia – Used for minor surgery, local anesthesia is usually given to numb and block the sense of pain in a particular area of the body. The patient remains conscious during a minor surgery using a local anesthetic.
- Regional anesthesia – Regional anesthesia numbs only one large portion of the body. For example, an epidural anesthetic is commonly used to block pain for surgery involving the lower limbs, such as joint replacement or orthopaedic trauma. It is also used during labor and childbirth.
- General anesthesia – General anesthesia blocks pain and induces unconsciousness during surgery. This type of anesthetic is either inhaled through a breathing mask or administered intravenously. When the surgery is complete, the anesthesiologist stops the flow of anesthetic and the patient wakes up in the recovery room.
Prior to your surgery, you will meet with your anesthesiologist who will evaluate your current medical condition and thoroughly review your medical history, in order to determine the appropriate type and amount of anesthetic to administer. It is important that the anesthesiologist knows as much about your medical history, lifestyle and medications as possible. All of these things help determine the correct dosage. Some important information your anesthesiologist will need to know includes the following:
- Reactions to previous anesthetics
- Recent and current prescription medicines and supplements
- Any known allergies
- Cigarette smoking and drinking
- Use of street drugs
If you have concerns or are nervous about the use of anesthesia during your next procedure, please reach out to your physician.