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Anesthesia Choices

Anesthesia choices today are generally safe and effective, while designed to bring you the greatest comfort for any medical procedure or operation.  There are several anesthesia options and the decision for the appropriate type is between you and your doctor or surgeon. There are several forms, including: sedation, local anesthesia, regional and general anesthesia.

Sedation: Sedation may be used alone or in conjunction with local anesthesia for minor procedures, such as, dental treatments. Dentists trained in sedation dentistry provide a valuable service to those who are anxious or fearful about the sounds, as well as, the real or imagined pain associated with being in the dental chair. Novacaine was the only option previously available in dentistry, but sedation dentistry has allowed many people who avoided the dentist to have peace of mind for their dental treatments. In fact, people receiving sedation dentistry may feel like the procedure only takes 10 minutes, when, in reality, the dental procedure may have required an hour’s time.  In dentistry, there are several forms of sedation.

Local Anesthesia: Local anesthesia offers a highly targeted approach that is directed to the specific treatment area on the body. For example, a local anesthetic may be given to the gums in your mouth for dental work like a tooth extraction; or for doing a needle biopsy; or some other minor procedure. Sometimes, local anesthesia is combined with sedation to provide an overall relaxed feeling, while still offering a direct anesthetic to the treatment area.

Regional Anesthesia: Regional anesthesia involves deactivating pain sensations for a larger area, surrounding the treatment area. This type of anesthesia may be referred to as a “spinal” or an “epidural,” which blocks pain between the spinal cord and the rest of the body during treatment. Spinals or epidurals are common for women who want to avoid some of the pain associated with childbirth.  Spinals or epidurals are common for select surgical operations in which there are advantages for the patient to be sedated, completely relaxed and possibly unaware during treatment. At the same time, spinal and epidurals allow you to be responsive to directions if necessary during the procedure and may enhance your recovery when compared to general anesthesia.

Local anesthesia with sedation, regional and spinal anesthesia may be used in newer less invasive procedures that allow for smaller incisions and less trauma to the treatment area. Both options may enhance recovery as people may be able resume most normal activities on the same day or next day of the procedure. These options may be very instrumental in cases where body movement and activity during or following surgery may improve recovery, rehabilitation, and/or the outcome of the procedure.

Dissociative Anesthesia: The next type of anesthesia, called dissociative anesthesia, inhibits nerve impulse transmissions between the higher and lower centers of the brain. Ketamine is the proper drug administered in this kind of treatment intravenously or by epidural. Dissociative anesthesia is used in emergency medicine, intensive care, or selectively in people with bi-polar disorder who have been unresponsive to other drug treatment protocols.

General Anesthesia: General anesthesia offers a means for you to be peacefully asleep for the duration of your surgery. General anesthesia is used for invasive medical procedures, such as, cardiac bypass surgery, intestinal rupture repair, transplant surgery, weight loss surgery- among many other types of surgery. Following surgery with general anesthesia, you will be routed to a recovery room for a few hours to allow time for you to awaken. You may still return home the same day after a medical procedure performed with general anesthesia, depending upon the type of surgery.  If so, you will need someone to drive you home and stay with you twenty- four hours following general anesthesia.

After-Effects of Anesthesia

Side effects from anesthesia are usually prevented or managed to provide you with the highest level of comfort following surgery. Depending upon the type of anesthesia you receive, you may experience some after-affects from anesthesia.

Sedation and Local Anesthesia: Typically, the after-effects associated with sedation and local anesthesia may be nonexistent to very minor. In some cases of sedation, you may need an escort home and may wish to rest due to a groggy feeling, depending upon the degree of sedation and type of procedure.

General or Other Types of Non-Local Anesthesia: After-effects from general or other types of non-local anesthesia may feel like grogginess for a few hours and may also require that you need someone to stay with you for the first twenty-four hours after anesthesia, such as in the case of general anesthesia.

Some people may experience, nausea or vomiting, which may be remedied with medication, such as Compazine or prevented with other drugs. So, call your doctor or surgeon right away if you begin to experience after effects of nausea or vomiting. You may have a headache, a hangover-type feeling, and/or a sore throat (if a breathing tube was used during surgery).

Anesthesia Risks

There are benefits and risks associated with all medical procedures. Allergic reactions must be immediately reported to you doctor or surgeon for treatment. Memory loss is also possible, but it’s usually limited to the duration of surgery and recovery room time.

Other risks may relate to your overall health and medical history. So, it is important to disclose any over- the-counter drugs, prescription medications, and supplements you are taking ideally, at least two weeks prior to your surgery date. Full disclosure allows your doctor, surgeon and anesthesiologist to take precautions that prevent risks associated with certain medications or lack of full disclosure about medical history. It is vital for individuals to follow fasting guidelines prior to general anesthesia to avoid possible complications, such as, aspiration. By complying with the instructions of your doctor, surgeon and anesthesiologist, you will reduce your risk of potential serious complications.  If you are in an emergent situation, it’s helpful to bring a list of your medications and medical history to the emergency room or urgent care facility so they can take precautions if you require immediate surgery.

The goal in surgery is to use the least amount of anesthesia possible to provide people with the greatest advantages.  All types of anesthesia recognized by board certified Anesthesiologists are generally safe. Risks may not outweigh the benefits of the procedure, but the vast majority of people are highly satisfied with the use of anesthesia.

Next, Visit: Selecting Anesthesia and Off Site Surgical Centers

It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition.

Your Health Access disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.