Types of Anesthesia

Your anesthesiologist is a key member of your surgical team. He or she gives you anesthetics (medications to keep you comfortable and decrease your awareness of surgery) and monitors your condition to keep you safe during surgery. You will have 1 of 3 kinds of anesthesia during your surgery.

Monitored anesthesia care (MAC)

  • Often used for surgery that is short or not too invasive.

  • Sedatives (medicines to relax you) are given through an IV (intravenous) line.

  • The area around the surgical site is usually numbed with a local anesthetic.

  • You may choose to remain awake or sleep lightly.

Regional anesthesia (sometimes called spinal epidural or bier block)

  • Often used for surgery on the arms, legs, and abdomen. It is also used during childbirth.

  • A specific region of your body is numbed by injecting anesthetic near nerves, near your spine, or near the operative site.

  • You may also be given sedatives through an IV line to relax you.

  • With regional anesthesia, you may choose to remain awake or sleep lightly.

General anesthesia

  • Often used for extensive surgery, such as on the heart, brain, or abdominal operation.

  • Also used when the patient wants to be totally asleep.

  • May be given as a gas that you breathe and as medicines that are injected through an IV line.

  • Because you are asleep, you feel no pain and remember nothing of the surgery.

The risks and complications of anesthesia depend on your overall health. If you are healthy, the risks are low. The risks are higher for patients with heart or lung problems. Your anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will discuss the risks with you.

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