General Anesthesia is a drug-induced complete loss of consciousness intended to block the physiologic and conscious response to any painful or unpleasant stimulus. This requires that the patient’s breathing be constantly monitored. It is most commonly initiated with an “induction agent” and is maintained by careful use of an anesthetic gas administered through a mask or a tube that goes down the throat.
Regional Anesthesia involves the use of local anesthetic drugs to block painful sensations in a certain part of the body. Loss of sensation is often accompanied by a lack of motor control or muscle movement. This type of anesthesia is almost always supplemented with sedation to enhance the patient’s comfort and reduce anxiety. Often, many patients are completely unaware of their surroundings.
Spinal Anesthesia involves an injection of local anesthetics directly into the spinal fluid to produce numbness in the abdomen and lower body. Depending on which specific medications are used, the numbness can last for one to six hours.
Epidural Analgesia and Anesthesia is an injection of local anesthetics and painkillers into the area of the spine that surrounds the spinal cord. This often involves the placement of an epidural catheter that can also be used for postoperative pain relief. This plastic tube can be left in place for several days following surgery and is checked daily for effectiveness and possible side effects.
Peripheral Nerve Blocks are used to decrease sensation in an arm or leg. The injection of local anesthetics is placed around the nerves of the affected limb and can be used for surgical anesthesia and for postoperative pain relief.
Moderate to Deep Sedation is a form of drug-induced sedation that can provide comfort during unpleasant procedures. Awareness of your surroundings is very unlikely but possible and is not considered a failure of the technique. Patients under sedation are constantly monitored to avoid respiratory or cardiac depression.
Local Anesthesia is an injection intended to numb a small area of the body. This is used for simple procedures mostly performed in a doctor’s office and does not require an anesthesiologist to be involved.