can be defined as the loss of normal sensation or feeling. Anesthesiologists use
drugs to produce this loss of feeling or awareness.
Types of Anesthesia
- Infiltration- A local anesthetic is injected directly into the tissue where the surgery will take place. Many people encounter
this technique in the emergency department, when a doctor injects local anesthetic
before sewing up a cut. The same method can be used for a variety of minor procedures
in the operating room, too. In these cases, although the injections may be performed
by the surgeon him/herself, an anesthesiologist is often needed to monitor the
patient and to give sedation or other medications that may be required during
- Regional anesthesia- Local anesthesia is injected around
a major nerve bundle. This anesthetic method produces temporary numbness in a
limited area of the body by blocking nerve impulses from that area. There are
two types of regional anesthesia: peripheral nerve blocks, which involve a relatively
small part of the body, such as an arm or a foot; and spinals and epidurals, which
can involve the entire lower portion of the body.
to note that neither local infiltration nor regional anesthesia puts you to sleep.
This means that, using either of these forms of anesthesia, you can have surgery
comfortably while wide awake."
- General anesthesia-
When most people think surgery, they picture this type of anesthesia, in which
patients are put temporarily into a deep sleep. In practice, general anesthesia
ranges from the relatively light levels used during minor surgery to the deepest
levels used in major operations. The defining characteristics of general anesthesia
is that, unlike infiltration and regional anesthesia, it acts primarily on the
brain rather than on the nerves leading to the brain.
Anesthesia Care Team
The anesthesia care team makes up an anesthesiologist and
a nurse anesthetist. An anesthesiologist is a physician who has gone through four
years of medical school plus an additional four years of training in medicine
and anesthesia. A certified registered nurse anesthetist completes two years of
nursing school after college plus two additional years of training in anesthesia.
Normally the nurse anesthetist stays through the entire surgery to make sure that
no complications occur during the procedure.
Hill, A.J. MD, PhD. The Patient's Guide to Anesthesia. New York: Kensington, 1999.
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Published: May 03, 2007
Updated: May 22, 2007