What is Anesthesia?
Anesthesia is basically putting all or part of the body to sleep so that you can undergo an otherwise painful or anxiety-producing procedure. Scientifically, anesthesia is a pharmacologically induced and reversible state of amnesia, analgesia or both simultaneously.
Anesthesia is used in surgery to minimize pain, discomfort, and shock for surgical patients. There are several types of anesthesia which can be used depending on the needs of the surgery: general, local, regional, and conscious sedation. When anesthesia works as expected, the patient feels no pain during a procedure, and often does not remember the proceedings either. Anesthesia increases patient comfort, which can in turn reduce recovery times. With the knowledge that they are not inflicting pain, it also makes it easier for a medical staff to work.
When anesthesia comes to mind, most people think of general anesthesia. General anesthesia is a complete loss of consciousness in the patient accomplished through a combination of injected and inhaled drugs. This type of anesthesia is often used for highly invasive surgeries, or cases when total relaxation of the patient is required. General anesthesia carries the most surgical risk because of the state of complete unconsciousness. As a result, the anesthesiologist will manage the patient carefully throughout surgery.
Regional anesthesia involves putting a region or part of the body to sleep. The type of anesthesia is carried out by injecting local anesthesia around a nerve of a group of nerves resulting in a deep anesthesia or the area served by the nerves. Examples include eye block, epidural block, auxiliary block and many others. Sedative medication is often given in conjunction with the nerve block to reduce anxiety and improve your overall experience. The effects of the block wear off in a matter of hours with no residual effects.
Local anesthesia involves injecting local anesthesia into an area to numb or put that are to sleep. This is typically done to remove small skin lesions or other minor procedures. An anesthesiologist or CRNA may or may not be involved, depending on the need for sedation and the health of the patient.
Topical anesthesia for cataract surgery involves eye drops that number the surface of the eye and allow the ophthalmologist to remove the cataract without pain. Intravenous sedation is often given by the anesthesiologist or CRNA.
Sedation, sometimes referred to as "conscious sedation" or "twilight sleep" involves the giving of intravenous medications to reduce anxiety, cause drowsiness or light sleep, cause amnesia and reduce pain. The is often carried out in conjunction with a nerve block or local anesthesia.
What is ambulatory anesthesia?
Ambulatory anesthesia is tailored to meet the needs of ambulatory surgery so you can go home soon after your operation. Short-acting anesthetic drugs and specialized anesthetic techniques as well as care specifically focused to the needs of the ambulatory patient are used to make your experience safe and pleasant.
In general, if you are in reasonably good health, you are a candidate for ambulatory anesthesia and surgery. Because each patient is unique, your anesthesiologist will carefully evaluate you and your health status to determine if you should undergo ambulatory anesthesia.
After your early recovery from anesthesia, you usually will return directly home. Patients do well with the assistance of their family or friends. If you do not have family members to help at home, you may require additional assistance. Some ambulatory facilities offer special postsurgical recovery facilities or extended services with nurses who visit you at home.