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Choosing Your Anesthesia

Choosing anesthesia that is right for you will be done after the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist has conferred with your surgeon, reviewed your medical history and talked to you. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Explore all the options with your surgeon and anesthesiologist.

Anesthesia is used to minimize the pain and anxiety of surgery. There are several kinds of anesthesia that are used to make surgery safer and more comfortable. There is general anesthesia in which the whole body is anesthetized, regional anesthesia in which certain areas of the body are anesthetized and monitored anesthesia care or MAC, routinely called sedation or twilight.

General
General anesthesia is used for major surgical procedures requiring prolonged unconsciousness. While unconscious, a machine will carefully control your breathing and monitor your vital signs. As you regain consciousness, you may experience a period of confusion and feel some pain, soreness in your throat and nausea. These side effects may persist for a few days. Medication may be needed to control the pain.

Regional
In regional anesthesia, a specific area of the body is anesthetized. The types of regional anesthesia are: spinal, epidural, nerve blocks and local anesthetic.

Spinal
The anesthetic agent is injected into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord (sub-arachnoid space). Pain impulses are blocked before they reach the brain.

Epidural
Similar to the spinal but the anesthetic agent is injected into a slightly different space (epidural space). This type is commonly used to relieve the pain of childbirth or to control pain for several days after certain kinds of surgery (usually abdominal).

Nerve Blocks
Nerve blocks are often used for surgical procedures of the shoulder, arm, hand and leg. The anesthetic agent is placed around the nerve supplying the area of surgery. Sometimes the surgeon will perform these blocks.

Local Anesthetic
This is where the anesthetic agent is injected directly to the area needing surgery. The surgeon may perform a "local" block. Anesthesia personnel are usually not present for these procedures.

Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC)Monitored Anesthesia Care is conscious sedation, allowing you to feel calm and comfortable and drift in and out of light sleep. It is sometimes called "twilight sleep." MAC is often used by the anesthesiologist to supplement local and regional anesthesia.

 

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