The word anesthesia translates quite simply to lack of sensation. And, in essence, that is exactly what it does. It numbs the body in order for painful surgical procedures to occur without the patient feeling immense pain. It can be a little confusing when trying to understand all the medical terminology relating to all the different kinds of anesthesia out there. There are a number of different methods to anesthetize and they are each used for a number of different reasons. Here, we break down the different types of anesthesia for your benefit.
Local anesthesia. Local anesthesia is a very focused way of numbing a specific area or “localized” region of the body. This special kind of anesthesia requires an injection into the surface skin layer and the subcutaneous tissue. It might be used for a superficial biopsy in a very specific area of the patient’s body. For example, for stitches or basic surgical procedures. It’s an extremely simple and effective method of anesthetics.
Nerve block. A nerve block is an injection into a nerve sheath in order to affect an entire area that the nerve reaches or serves. This technique is most commonly used by dentists when doing root canals or extracting teeth from a patient. An injection into the dental nerve will result in numbness of the entire jawbone region on one side, making it easier to work on all areas of the mouth. Hip surgery usually requires this kind of anesthesia and will cause total loss of feeling in the leg.
Epidural and subdural. An epidural is a form of spinal anesthesia. A very tiny needle or small plastic catheter is injected into the space just outside of the main spinal nerve roots and cord. It is trapped in that area and causes numbness throughout. Subdural allows for more extensive and deep paralysis. It also prevents uncontrolled muscle movements and is easier to move to different parts of the body depending on the position of the patient. Occasionally both types are used together.
General Anesthesia. General anesthetic usually refers to a “gas” of some sort, that is inhaled via tracheal tube. This can be used for serious respiratory and cardiac conditions. Any procedure that may cause blood loss, anxiety, breathing issues or are simply too painful or take too long would be suited to a general anesthetic.
Sedation. Sedation can mean a number of techniques and intravenous medications. Conscious sedation can be used in order for the doctor to still instruct the patient during the surgery. Often this will be followed by a medication to help the patient forget the procedure. For more information on the various kinds of anesthesia you might want to consult a specialist such as Premier Anesthesia. In the end, working with a specialist will help you find the right type of anesthesia. because there may be some methods that are not right for you and you may have a bad reaction, which is the last thing you want when you are going under for a major surgery.