The four main types of anesthesia include general, regional, monitored, and local. The type of anesthesia you will receive is influenced by one or more of the following factors:
- The kind of surgery you are having
- Estimated length and site of the surgical procedure
- Your overall medical condition and health status
- Medications you currently take
- Your surgeon’s preference
With general anesthesia, you are completely asleep and unconscious with total loss of sensation.
In regional anesthesia, the anesthesiology provider injects you with an anesthetic to provide numbness or loss of pain or sensation to the area of the body requiring surgery. The injection is made near a cluster of nerves and is called a nerve block. The most common types are spinal, epidural, or peripheral. You may remain awake and alert or be sedated.
If you are sedated during regional anesthesia, then you receive monitored anesthesia care, also known as MAC sedation or twilight sleep. Monitored anesthesia care involves the administration of drugs to produce sedation and analgesia (insensibility to pain without loss of consciousness). In addition, your surgeon will administer local anesthesia to the operative site.
Local anesthesia is an injection that provides numbness to a small area and is used primarily for minor surgery. It is often administered by the surgeon and does not require the presence of an anesthesiology provider.
You will meet with your anesthesiologist prior to surgery and will have an opportunity to discuss your anesthesia options. Your anesthesiologist will inform you of the advantages, side effects, and possible complications of each. Depending upon the factors above, you may be able to participate in the decision-making and choose which method you prefer.