Types of Anesthesia

Regional and Local Anesthesia

Regional and local anesthesia numb only part of the body. They may be used for simpler procedures, and they involve few risks.

There are four types of regional anesthesia which can be used:

Intravenous regional anesthesia

This is also called a Bier block. With this form of anesthesia, a tourniquet is wrapped around a limb to briefly stop blood flow. An anesthetic is injected. After surgery, the tourniquet is removed—and blood flow and feeling return. This may be used for certain types of hand surgery. The anesthetic is injected near a cluster of nerves, numbing an entire limb.

Epidural

The anesthetic is injected into the space just outside the covering of the spinal cord. This blocks nerve signals from the lower half of the body. But, you may still be able to move. An epidural is often used during childbirth. An epidural may be used as part of the general anesthetic. When used in this capacity, it will reduce the amount of general anesthesia and provide good pain relief after the surgery. The epidural may remain there for several days and a medication will be administered through it. You will have the option to self-administer for pain if necessary.

Spinal Anesthesia 

Also called Spinal Block, this anesthetic is injected into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. Spinal anesthesia may be used to numb only the lower half of the body.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is used for many types of surgery. Here’s what usually happens:
You may be given medications to help you relax or sleep. Anesthetics will be administered by the anesthesia specialist, using one or both of these methods:

  • intravenous—anesthetic drugs are injected through a thin tube placed in a vein in your arm or hand. This is the usual method for getting people asleep.
  • inhalation—you breathe in anesthetic gas through a face mask or through a breathing tube that is placed after you are asleep.