Types of anesthesia

Anesthesia is given by having medicine go through your IV or having you breathe gases that make you unconscious and unaware during surgery. There are different types of anesthesia that you may have for your surgery. You will have an opportunity to discuss the type of anesthesia that is best for you during your POSH phone call or telehealth visit and on the day of surgery with your Anesthesiologist.

One of the most common side effects of anesthesia is nausea and vomiting. To prevent this, you will be provided with anti-nausea medication in the preop area, and again in recovery, if needed.

General Anesthesia:

During General Anesthesia, you are completely asleep and will not be aware or feel anything during the surgery. Once in the operating room, you will breathe oxygen through a mask, then receive medicine through your IV that will drift you off to sleep. You will breathe anesthesia gases through a breathing device - this will keep you asleep during the surgery. In some cases, you may receive medicine in your IV to keep you asleep. You will also receive medicine to treat pain and help prevent nausea after anesthesia. We will monitor you closely during surgery and a member of your anesthesia team will be with you the entire time. When surgery is over, you will be woken up and taken to the recovery room.

Some common side effects of general anesthesia are:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Sore throat/hoarseness lasting 1-2 days
  • Lightheadedness and feeling unsteady on your feet
  • Drowsiness/Trouble remembering events from the recovery room

Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC):

This type of anesthesia is often called “twilight sleep,” or “sedation.” You will be breathing on your own and a breathing device is not necessary. With MAC, medicines are given through an IV to make you sleepy and relaxed. MAC can be a mild sedation, where you will be awake but comfortable. It can be moderate sedation where you are very sleepy but could be woken up and may be aware during parts of the procedure but kept comfortable. Also, it can be deep sedation where you will not be awake or aware during the procedure.

Monitored anesthesia care is used for:

  • Minor surgery
  • Colonoscopies or bronchoscopies

Some common side effects of monitored anesthesia care are:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or unsteady on your feet
  • Drowsiness/Trouble remembering events from the recovery room

Epidural and Spinal Anesthesia:

With this type of anesthesia, medicine is placed around nerves in your back, blocking pain and allowing you to be comfortable during or after surgery.

Epidural Anesthesia:

With an epidural, a small, flexible catheter is placed in your back near nerves that supply feeling to the surgical area, and medicine is run continuously through the catheter to provide pain relief. Epidurals can be used to provide pain relief during surgery itself or to reduce pain after surgery. When your pain is well controlled after surgery, you will be able to sleep better, get out of bed and move around earlier and easier after surgery, take deep breaths to prevent pneumonia, and avoid the side effects of narcotic pain medication. Epidurals are also used for the treatment of pain during labor. An epidural is a safe procedure and can be left in place for several days as necessary.

Spinal Anesthesia:

With a spinal, a one-time dose of medicine is placed in the fluid part of the spine where the nerves are that supply feeling to the surgical area. This makes the surgical area completely numb so you will not feel any pain during the surgery. A spinal last only a few hours and is often used during Total Joint Replacement surgery and other surgeries below the waist. Even though you will not feel any pain during surgery, most times you will also receive medication in your IV MAC so you can be sleepy during the surgery.

Some possible side effects/complications of Epidural and Spinal anesthesia are:

  • Headache
  • Bruising and mild discomfort at the injection site
  • Rare Complications: Bleeding, Infection, Nerve injury

Nerve Block:

A nerve block involves injecting medicine around a nerve, or group of nerves, to numb a section of the body. It can result in a total loss of feeling of the area during surgery and can also provide pain relief after surgery.

Typical surgeries where you may receive a nerve block include shoulder surgery and surgeries on your arm, hand, and leg. Nerve blocks are safe and can help control pain for several hours, ranging 10-20 hours. While the nerve block is working, you will be unable to move the arm or leg and will feel tingling and numbness of the area.

  • If you are going home the same day of surgery, you may need to have someone help you with your usual activities until the nerve block wears off. You should protect the area from possible trauma.
  • If the nerve block involves your arm or shoulder, you may be provided with a sling to help protect the arm.
  • If the nerve block involves your leg, you should avoid bearing weight until the block has worn off.
  • Once you feel that the pain-relieving effects of the nerve block are wearing off, be sure to start taking pain medicine your surgeon has prescribed.

Some possible side effects/complications of a nerve block are:

  • Injection of medicine into a blood vessel
  • Bruising and mild discomfort at the injection site
  • Rare Complications: Bleeding, Infection, Nerve injury