The Department of Anaesthesia

Princess Margaret Hosptial

Patient Information


Types of Anesthesia

There are two basic kinds of anesthesia:

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is most often used for major surgical procedures that require prolonged unconsciousness and careful monitoring of vital functions. During general anesthesia the entire body, including the brain, is anesthetized. The patient is deeply asleep, feels nothing during the operation, and remembers nothing about the operation afterward.

General anesthesia may be given either by injection or by mask, or both. During general anesthesia, various machines must monitor vital functions such as heart rate and blood pressure.

If you are receiving general anesthesia, you will be lying on the operating table while a mask and/or intravenous fine is put in place. After the gas or intravenous anesthetic is administered, you will be completely unconscious. While under anesthesia, the surgery is performed and your vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure are monitored very carefully. While unconscious, your breathing will usually be controlled by a machine using an endotracheal (breathing) tube. Usually the tube is removed as you are waking up.

Once the operation has been completed, you will be sent to the recovery room where your vital signs will continue to be closely monitored. There may be a period of confusion as you regain consciousness. Once you are alert, you may begin to feel some pain in the area of surgery, soreness in the throat, and nausea. These side effects may persist for a few days. You may require narcotic type drugs to help control pain.

Regional Anesthesia

In regional anesthesia, only a specific area of the body is anesthetized. This is achieved by injecting the anesthetic directly to the nerves supplying the area needing surgery. There are several advantages to regional anesthesia. These include complete pain control without loss of consciousness and less chance of side effects like those associated with general anesthesia, such as sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and disorientation. Maintaining consciousness is an advantage during some hospital experiences, including childbirth.

Regional anesthesia provides pain relief that may last several hours after the surgery without the need for additional pain medicine.

Regional anesthesia is a frequent choice for operations. Many areas of the body are suitable for regional anesthesia. Here is a fist of just some of the common operations or procedures that can be done with regional anesthesia:

With regional anesthesia, you may be given medicine to help you relax. If so, it will enable you to feel calm and comfortable; or even to fall asleep during the operation. There are several different types of regional anesthesia:

In continuous epidural anesthesia, a small plastic tube (catheter) may be placed at the site of injection for additional pain control after surgery. The catheter can be taped to the back once the operation is over. This allows the doctor to give the pain medicine quickly and effectively, and provides maximum comfort for you.

The Department of Anaesthesia, Princess Margaret Hospital, Nassau Bahamas