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Types of Anesthesia

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About Anesthesia

Anesthesia is broken down into three main categories: local, regional, and general, all of which affect the nervous system in some way and can be administered using various methods and different medications.

Here's a basic look at each kind:

The anesthesiologist will be there before, during, and after the operation to monitor the anesthetic and ensure you constantly receive the right dose. With general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist uses a combination of various medications to do things like:

How Does Anesthesia Work?

To better understand how the different types of anesthesia work, it may help to learn a little about the nervous system. If you think of the brain as a central computer that controls all the functions of your body, then the nervous system is like a network that relays messages back and forth from it to different parts of the body. It does this via the spinal cord, which runs from the brain down through the backbone and contains threadlike nerves that branch out to every organ and body part.

Will I Get a Needle?

Often, anesthesiologists may give a person a sedative to help them feel sleepy or relaxed before a procedure. Then, people who are getting general anesthesia may be given medication through a mask or breathing tube first and then given an IV after they're asleep. Why? Because many people are afraid of needles and may have a hard time staying still and calm.

What Type of Anesthesia Will I Get?

The type and amount of anesthesia given to you will be specifically tailored to your needs and will depend on various factors, including:

The anesthesiologist can discuss the options available, and he or she will make the decision based on your individual needs and best interests.

Reviewed by: Judith A. Jones, MD
Date reviewed: April 2012

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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