What Are the Types of Anesthesia?
Anesthesia Care Team​
Before Your Surgery
Preoperative Interview
After Your Surgery

There are several types of anesthetic techniques available for your surgery. The anesthesia technique recommended will depend on several factors. In some cases, the surgical procedure will dictate what kind of anesthesia will be needed. There are four anesthetic options:

General Anesthesia

This anesthetic choice produces unconsciousness so that you will not feel, see, or hear anything during the surgical procedure. The anesthetic medications are given to you through an intravenous line, through an anesthetic mask, or by a breathing tube. Often, this is referred to as sleep. However, this is not sleep, but a medically induced state of unconsciousness, where the vital functions are supported by the anesthesia provider.

Regional Anesthesia

This technique produces numbness with the injection of local anesthesia around nerves in a region (or part) of the body corresponding to the surgical procedure. Epidural or spinal blocks anesthetize the abdomen and both lower extremities. Other nerve blocks may be done with the nerves in the arms or legs to anesthetize individual extremities. With regional anesthesia, medications can be given that will make you comfortable, drowsy, and blur your memory.

Monitored Anesthesia Care

With this approach, you usually receive pain medication and sedatives through your intravenous line from your anesthesiologist. This is often referred to as “twilight sleep”. The surgeon will also inject local anesthesia at the operative site, which will produce additional pain control during and immediately after the procedure. While you are sedated, your anesthesiologist will monitor your vital body functions.

Local Anesthesia

The surgeon will inject local anesthetic to provide numbness at the surgical site. In this case, there may be no anesthesia team member with you.

Anesthesiologist are educated as either medical (MD) or osteopathic (DO) doctors who have completed 4 years of anesthesia residency (12 or 13 years of post-high school education).  Many have additional fellowships in specialized areas such as cardiothoracic anesthesia, pain management or critical care. Anesthesiologists are primarily responsible for the patient’s safety and well-being before, during, and after surgery. The anesthesiologist may delegate patient monitoring and appropriate tasks while maintaining overall responsibility for the patient.

Other members of the Care Team include Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) who are RNs with experience in critical care and post graduate education in the administration of anesthetics. Certified Anesthesiologist Assistants (CAA) have a master’s degree in the administration of anesthetics in conjunction with an anesthesiologist.

Eating, Drinking or Taking Medicine

As a general rule, you should not eat or drink anything before your surgery. Under some circumstances, the anesthesiologist, in conjunction with the surgeon will instruct you to drink specific liquids up to a few hours before your anesthetic. If you smoke, please refrain. Cigarette smoke decreases your body’s ability to transport oxygen in the blood. In addition, refraining from smoking for up to six weeks may restore some lung function prior to surgery. Also, there are some medications that should be taken and others should not. It is important to discuss this with your anesthesiologist. Do not interrupt medications unless your anesthesiologist or surgeon recommends it.

Possible Side Effects

Anesthesia and surgery affect your entire system, so it is important for your anesthesiologist to know as much about you as possible. During a preoperative visit, an anesthesiologist will carefully evaluate you and your medical history and will inquire about your recent prescription and over the counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements. In addition, this physician will inform you about the procedures associated with your surgery, discuss the anesthetic choices, their risks and benefits, order appropriate laboratory tests, and prescribe medication for you, if needed, before your operation.

Your anesthesiologist continues to be responsible for your care in the recovery room, often called the post-anesthesia care unit where your condition and vital signs are monitored as the effects of the anesthetic wear off. Your anesthesiologist will determine when you are able to leave the recovery room.