What to Know About Anesthesia


Anesthesia is a medicine used during surgery or other medical procedures that may be painful. There are different forms and depending on the type is a way to help control pain, relax you, make you sleepy, and/or make you unconscious for your procedure.


If you have a procedure done in a hospital or surgery center, an anesthesiologist will be on hand to administer your anesthesia. These doctors use a wide variety of safe medications and monitoring technology during the procedure. Prior to the procedure the anesthesiologist will speak to you and want to know of any medications you are on, if you have any allergies, if you have had any reactions to anesthesia before, and check your vital signs.


If you are upset, nervous, nauseous, anxious, etc. while you are waiting for your procedure it is important that you speak with the anesthesiologist. They are to keep you as comfortable as possible before, during and after surgery so if something is wrong be sure to speak up – they may be able to give you something to help with nausea or anxiety or can talk you through the process.


During your surgery your anesthesiologist will be on hand to monitor your vitals such as oxygen, heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing to ensure that everything is proceeding well. If any problems arise during surgery, the anesthesiologist can assist as anesthetics can control your breathing, blood pressure, blood flow, and heart rate and rhythm. After your surgery, if you are in pain the anesthesiologist will help to ensure that you are comfortable.


There are a few different types of anesthesia – some forms are only administered by an anesthesiologist and other forms can be applied in other medical type settings by a specialist.


  • General Anesthesia: General anesthesia is administered through the patient’s circulatory system by a combination of injected medication and inhaled gas. After the initial injection, general anesthesia is maintained with inhaled gas anesthetics and additional medication that is run through an intravenous line (IV). This type of anesthesia makes the patient unconscious and unaware of the medical procedure.
  • Local Anesthesia: During a local anesthetic the patient will remain conscious, however the medicine that is administered will temporarily stop the sense of pain in a particular area of the body. Typically administered during minor surgery – ie. getting stitches or having a mole removed. If a local anesthetic will not penetrate deep enough, a physician may have to resort to a regional anesthetic.
  • Regional Anesthesia: An injection of a local anesthetic around major nerves or the spinal cord to block pain from a larger but still limited part of the body. You may receive medicine to help you relax or sleep during the procedure. Regional anesthesia types include – spinal, epidural, and nerve blocks.