Anesthesia reduces or prevents the pain that a person will feel when they get surgery.
The MedlinePlus webpage lists the three main types of anesthesia:
- Local: Numbs just a small part of the body (a hand or an area of the skin, for example). Depending on the size of the area, it can be administered as an injection, aerosol or ointment. The patient can either be awake, sedated or put to sleep. Local anesthesia is usually used for minor surgeries and procedures in patients that come for operations and can leave for their homes on the same day.
- Regional: The medication is injected near a group of nerves and puts an extensive area of the body to sleep, such as from the waist down.
- General: The purpose of general anesthesia is to leave the person completely unconscious and keep them in this state during surgery. The patient will have no sensation, pain, will be unconscious, will not be able to move or will have any memory of the surgery. This anesthesia can be administered intravenously (which requires inserting a needle into the vein, usually in the arm) or by inhaling gases or vapors.
The type of anesthesia that the physician decides to use therefore depends on different factors such as age, weight, the type and area of the surgical intervention, and the patient’s medical history.
Keep in mind
Some of the side effects of the anesthesia include nausea, vomiting, chills, shakiness and a sore throat (if a tube was used to aid in breathing), as well as disorientation and confusion.