Types of Anesthesia

During surgery, your anesthesiologist will provide you with some form of anesthesia.  This will ensure that you will have relief from pain and sensation during surgery. The type of anesthetic will depend on the type of surgery and your medical history or medical conditions.  The three types of anesthesia include:

Local Anesthesia:  Local anesthesia temporarily stops the sense of pain in a particular area of the body.  You may or may not receive a sedating medication to help relax you along with the local anesthetic.

Regional Anesthesia:  Regional anesthesia is used to stop the sensation of pain and usually movement from a particular portion of the body.  There are several types of regional anesthesia depending on which part and how much of the body needs to be frozen.  There may include numbing the arms or legs to various degrees.  The two more common types of regional anesthesia include Spinal and Epidural Anesthetic.

Spinal Anesthesia: Most commonly used for hip and knee surgery as well as for delivery of a newborn via cesarian section.  A single dose of anesthetic is given in the lower back that bathes the nerves that supply the area that needs to be frozen.

Epidural Anesthesia: Similar to a spinal anesthetic and can be used for lower extremity surgery as well as for abdominal and thoracic procedures.  Examples may include bowel resection, surgery on the kidney, or even the lungs.  Epidurals are also very commonly used to provide comfort during labour and delivery.  An epidural allows an anesthetic agent to be delivered continuously to keep the desired area numb for as long as is needed.  This may be several hours to several days depending on the procedure.

General Anesthesia:

General anesthesia will result in unconsciousness during surgery.  Typically a medication will be given via the intravenous to get you off to sleep.  It is a deep sleep where you loose the ability to breathe on your own.  A breathing tube will be placed into the airway by the anesthesiologist to maintain your breathing during the operation.  Once the surgery is done, the anesthesiologist will wake you up and remove the breathing tube and take you to the recovery area.