Anesthesia Patient Information
What are your options for anesthesia?
Your anesthetic options today are not limited to a general anesthetic (going to
sleep). Depending on the type of procedure and your health status
you may have options other than a general anesthetic.
regional anesthesia, general anesthesia
and Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC sedation)
are types of anesthesia available today.
- Local anesthesia is where just the
area operated on will be the only area anesthetized.
Regional anesthesia is where a
larger part or portion of the body is anesthetized. You may be
familiar with terms like spinals or epidurals. These are both
forms of regional anesthesia. Spinal and epidural
anesthesia are precise injections in appropriate areas of the
An epidural is given below the level of the spinal cord. A
special needle is placed outside of the spinal sac and
anesthetic medications are given through this needle. Epidurals
are used more commonly for childbirth. Epidurals can provide
extended pain relief. Spinals are most commonly used for
C-sections and urinary surgeries.
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A spinal is shorter acting than an epidural. Medication is
injected into the spinal fluid to numb the lower half of the
Regional anesthesia for extremity surgery involves injecting an
area where there is a concentration of nerves for that
particular extremity. Injecting anesthetics into this area
blocks pain for that extremity, allowing the patient to be awake
for surgery. Regional extremity blocks may also provide pain
relief for a time after surgery.
For more information about regional anesthesia please go to our
FAQs and click on the
question about anesthesia options for surgery on an extremity.
- General anesthesia is where you are
given medications to make you temporarily unconscious so that you
cannot feel pain during the operation.
- Sedation anesthesia is where pain
relievers and sedatives are given to minimize pain and discomfort
during a procedure. You are able to communicate during the procedure
however the medications usually produce a brief period of amnesia so
that there is little memory of the procedure.
Your anesthesia provider and surgeon will evaluate and recommend
the anesthetic options that are appropriate for you. Your anesthesia
provider will visit you prior to your procedure to review your
medical history and discuss options and answer any questions you may
have. If you have had any problems with anesthetics in the past
please discuss this with your surgeon so that your anesthesia
provider could be made aware of it prior to your procedure.
Prior To Your Procedure
Follow the directions given to you by your surgeons office as to
when you need to stop eating or drinking. Make arrangements to have
someone drive you home after your procedure.
After Your Procedure
For 24 hours after regional, sedation or general anesthesia you
should not drive, operate machinery, make any important decisions or
sign any legal documents, drink alcohol, or take any medications
unless prescribed by your doctor.
Plan to rest at home. If you have small children arrange for
someone to care for them.
Make sure you drink fluids at first and
then gradually add light foods like broth, soup, toast, crackers,
rice, and Jell-O.