Anesthesia is a way to control pain during a surgery or procedure by using medicine called anesthetics. It can help control your breathing, blood pressure, blood
flow, and heart rate and rhythm.
Anesthesia may be used to:
Other medicines may be used along with anesthesia, such as ones to help you relax or to reverse the effects of anesthesia.
The type of anesthesia used depends on several things:
Your doctor or nurse may prefer one type of anesthesia over
another for your surgery. In some cases, your doctor or nurse may let you
choose which type to have. Sometimes, such as in an emergency, you don't get
Major side effects and other problems of anesthesia aren't
common, especially in people who are in good health. But all anesthesia
has some risk.
For example, high doses of local and regional anesthetic can go into the rest of the body and affect your breathing, heartbeat, or blood
pressure. Some people get headaches after spinal anesthesia.
Your specific risks depend on the type of anesthesia you get,
your age, your health, and how you respond to the medicines used. Some health problems, such as heart or lung disease, increase your chances of problems from
anesthesia. Taking certain medicines, smoking, drinking alcohol, and using illegal drugs can also increase your chance of problems.
or nurse will talk with you about the best type for you and will review risks,
benefits, and other choices.
Your surgeon may let you know what to do the night before and
the day of the procedure. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
If your child is having surgery or a procedure, you can help him or her prepare. Let your child know what to expect. Be honest if he or she might feel pain. Be sure to tell your child that you will be close by.
Before and during surgery, an
anesthesiologist or a
nurse anesthetist will take charge of your comfort and
safety. He or she will give you the anesthesia and closely monitor you. This means he or she will check your blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, and other vital body functions throughout the surgery. During surgery, the anesthesia specialist also will continue to give anesthesia to keep you free of pain.
When the procedure is complete, you will stop getting the medicine. How quickly
the anesthesia wears off depends on the anesthetics and other medicines used
and on your response to the medicines.
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room. A
nurse will check your vital signs and any bandages and ask about how much pain
you have. If you are in pain, don't be afraid to say so.
Some effects of anesthesia may last for many hours after surgery.
For minor surgeries, you may go home the same day. If surgery is more complicated, you may have to move to a hospital room to continue your
recovery. If you stay in the hospital, your doctor or nurse will visit you to
check on your recovery and answer any questions you
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Learning about anesthesia:
Types of anesthesia:
Risks and possible problems:
This website, sponsored by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, has information to help adults and children before and after anesthesia. This website has videos, articles, patient stories, and more.
Other Works Consulted
American Society of Anesthesiologists (2011). Guidelines for patient care in anesthesiology. Available online: http://www.asahq.org/For-Members/Standards-Guidelines-and-Statements.aspx.
Brown DL (2010). Spinal, epidural, and caudal anesthesia. In RD Miller et al., eds., Miller's Anesthesia, 7th ed., pp. 1611–1638. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone.
Dalens BJ (2010). Regional anesthesia in children. In RD Miller et al., eds., Miller's Anesthesia, 7th ed., pp. 2519–2700. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone.
Dorian RS (2010). Anesthesia of the surgical patient. In FC Brunicardi et al., eds., Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery, 9th ed., pp. 1731–1752. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hilton L, et al. (2009). Anesthesia, local. In B Narins, ed., Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery and Medical Tests: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers, 2nd ed., vol. 1, pp. 68–72. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
Sanford TJ (2010). Anesthesia. In GM Doherty, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Surgery, 13th ed., pp. 135–150. New York: McGraw-Hill.
White PF, Eng MR (2010). Ambulatory (outpatient) anesthesia. In RD Miller et al., eds., Miller's Anesthesia, 7th ed., pp. 2419–2459. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone.
Wiener-Kronish JP, Fleisher L (2012). Overview of anesthesia. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., pp. 2483–2387. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Yip P, et al. (2009). Non-pharmacological interventions for assisting the induction of anaesthesia in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).
September 30, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology
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