Anesthesia is a short-term absence of feeling. The anesthesiologist and the surgeon will talk with you to plan the type of anesthetic that is best for you. This is based on the surgery and your medical history. There are five types of anesthesia that may be used.
Local anesthesia is a numbing medicine injected around the site of the incision. It causes a lack of feeling at the incision area only. The rest of the body is not affected. You will be awake during surgery. The surgeon gives this type of anesthetic only when operating on a small part of the body.
Monitored Anesthetic Care uses both a local anesthetic at the incision site and IV medicine to relax you (sedation). It produces a sleepy state. You can be aroused but otherwise sleep. Due to the IV medicine, you may not recall your time in the OR. Once surgery is over, you will be fully awake.
Nerve Block is a type of local (regional) anesthesia used for arm or leg surgery. Numbing medicine is injected close to a nerve. The nerve block numbs the entire limb. Sedation or a light general anesthesia also may be given. This allows you to sleep and to be unaware of what is going on around you during surgery. Depending on the surgery, your limb may be numb for 24 to 48 hours. This numbness is also helpful in managing post-surgery pain.
Epidural or Spinal anesthesia is a numbing medicine that is injected into the mid or lower back. All of the nerves going into the incision area and nearby areas are numbed. This absence of sensation (feeling) is limited to one region (localized). With a spinal, you may have a lack of feeling from the waist to the toes. Feeling returns in a few hours. Sometimes, patients have trouble urinating after an epidural or spinal. This is normal and usually lasts only a short time.
General anesthesia may begin with an IV (into the vein) medicine and often also includes breathing anesthetic gases mixed with oxygen. You are not aware of the surgery or your surroundings. A breathing tube may be placed into your windpipe to help you breathe during surgery (this is why some patients have a slight sore throat on the day after surgery). Before surgery, be sure to tell the anesthesiologist about any your crowns, bridges or loose teeth so that extra care can be taken.