Anesthesia is a way to control pain using anesthetic medicine.
Anesthetics are used to numb a specific area of the body (local and regional
anesthesia) or to cause a person to be unconscious and not have pain during a procedure such as
surgery (general anesthesia).
Local anesthesia numbs just a small area of
tissue where a minor procedure is to be done.
numbs a larger (but still limited) part of the body and does not make the
person unconscious. Sometimes medicine is added to help the person relax or fall asleep. Spinal and epidural anesthesia are examples of regional
General anesthesia affects the entire body and makes
the person unconscious. The unconscious person is completely unaware of what is
going on and does not feel pain from the surgery or procedure. General
anesthesia medicines can be injected into a vein or inhaled.
The type of anesthesia used depends upon the procedure and the
person's health, age, and preferences. Young children usually cannot remain
still during surgery and need general anesthesia. People with certain health
problems choose local or regional anesthesia when that is an option, because it
may pose fewer risks than general anesthesia in some situations. Long or
difficult surgeries may require general anesthesia.
A person choosing local or regional anesthesia needs to be able to
lie still and remain calm during the surgery. Medicine may be given to help with relaxation.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.