Anesthesia is the intervention made to relieve a patient of the sensations pertaining to the whole body or towards a specific region, which is planned to undergo surgery. It makes use of several medications in order to relieve or inhibit the nerve stimulation. The major characteristic of anesthesia against other types of loss of sensation is its reversible nature.
The type of anaesthesia will be determined by many factors and these may be patient related factors as well as factors pertaining to the surgery itself. When considering the patient factors age, underlying medical conditions, allergies and body deformities needs to be considered. The surgical factors would mostly confine to the place and the intensity of the pain as well as the amount of muscle relaxation needed.
All in all, there are several types of anesthesia that is being used in relation to surgical procedures and they are described below.
1. General anesthesia
General anesthesia is induced by giving an anesthetic agent to a vein or by giving it through a mask. The anesthesia will affect the brain as well as the whole body and the patient will be completely unaware and unconscious about the surgical procedure. To give this kind of anesthesia, it requires specialized equipment as well as inserting a tube to the airways (endotracheal tube) in order to maintain the airways.
Patients will take a little while to recover from the induced general anesthesia and could be drowsy for several hours.
2. Regional anesthesia
In this method, the anesthetic agent (local) will be injected near a major nerve or a bundle of nerves which supply to a specific area or else will be injected into the dural space of the spinal cord at the level in which the specific nerves arise. This will numb the region which is supplied by these nerves or the spinal cord and provide anesthesia without the need to lose consciousness. In most instances, the patient will be given an inhalation drug to sleep for the duration of the surgery.
There are two types of regional anesthesia.
a) Spinal anesthesia : The anesthetic agent will be injected near the spinal cord into the dural space where the nerve roots are starting. A special spinal needle will be inserted through the vertebral spaces in order to reach the dural space. This type of anesthesia is used in numbing for caesarean sections, surgeries involving the legs, groin, hips as well as the abdomen.
b) Regional block: The technique is to locate major nerves or the bundle of nerves by injecting the agent near them and numb the specific area supplied by that nerve. Surgeries on hand, feet, fingers, toes and face can make use of this technique.
3. Local anesthesia
The anesthetic agent is injected to the site of the surgery regardless of the presence of nerve supply. The procedure is used in minor operations related to skin suturing or excision of small superficial lumps.