Types of Anesthesia

Our CRNAs have the expertise to advise you on the most suitable course of anesthetic for your surgical procedure. There are basically four categories of anesthesia that can be used separately or in various combinations. The choice is made based on the procedure being performed, the common standard of care for that procedure, and the most appropriate course for providing the highest degree of safety and comfort for you, the patient.

Throughout your anesthetic your vital signs including heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, breathing patterns, temperature and often brain is constantly monitored and analyzed.

The following are descriptions of each type of anesthesia that may be utilized:

General Anesthesia is a drug-induced complete loss of consciousness, intended to block the physiologic and conscious response to any painful or unpleasant stimulus. This requires that the patient’s breathing be constantly monitored. It is most commonly initiated with an “induction agent” and is maintained by careful use of an anesthetic gas administered through a mask or a tube that goes down the throat.

Regional Anesthesia involves the use of local anesthetic drugs to block painful sensations in a certain part of the body. Loss of sensation is often accompanied by a lack of motor control or muscle movement. This type of anesthesia is almost always supplemented with sedation to enhance the patient’s comfort and reduce anxiety.

Spinal Anesthesia involves an injection of local anesthetics directly into the spinal fluid to produce numbness in the abdomen and lower body. Depending on which specific medications are used the numbness can last for one to six hours.

Epidural Analgesia and Anesthesia is an injection of local anesthetics and narcotics into the space of the spine that surrounds the actual spinal nerves. This often involves the placement of an epidural catheter that can also be used for postoperative pain relief. This plastic tube can be left in place for up to five days following surgery and is checked daily for effectiveness and possible side effects.

Peripheral Nerve Blocks are used to deaden all sensation in one arm or leg. The injection of local anesthetics is placed around the nerves of the affected limb and can be used for surgical anesthesia and for postoperative pain relief.

Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC) is a form of drug-induced heavy sedation that can provide comfort during unpleasant procedures. Awareness of your surroundings is unlikely but possible, and is not considered a failure of the technique. Patients under heavy sedation are constantly monitored to avoid respiratory and cardiac depression.