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Anesthesia
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A PATIENT'S GUIDE TO ANESTHESIA

  •  What is anesthesia?
    • It is a state of painlessness induced by various drugs (anesthesia)
    • Anesthesia blocks pain impulses in the nervous system making the patient insensitive to pain.
    • There are two types of anesthesia LOCAL and GENERAL. IV sedation may also be used with local.
  •  What are the three major types of LOCAL anesthetics?
    • TOPICAL Drugs are applied to the skin surface by dropper, spray or swab - as they are absorbed they act on surface nerve endings. These are used in surgery of the eye, nose, throat and bladder.
    • INFILTRATION Anesthetics are injected directly into the tissues to be numbed. Loss of feeling occurs in the nerve branches.
    • REGIONAL Anesthetics are injected around the main nerve to the affected area. They stop sensation in a wide region of the body. (The patient may be asleep or sedated before the injection)
    • SPINAL injection directly into the fluid sac surrounding the spinal cord. Mental alertness is unaffected to receive the injection, you lie on your side or sit up while the anesthetic is injected into the spinal fluid - to make placement of the needle almost painless, your skin is first numbed with local anesthetic.
    • EPIDURAL CAUDAL ANESTHESIA Anesthetic is injected into the space on top of the dura (the tough connective tissue covering that protects the spinal cord) The doses of the anesthetic can be regulated so that only the pain signals are blocked and the patient retains full control of muscle movement. Prolonged anesthesia is possible by the injection of additional anesthesia through a catheter (plastic tube) which remains in place.
    • NERVE BLOCKS An arm, leg, or other part of the body can be anesthetized by delivering anesthetic directly to the appropriate nerves. Another way of anesthetizing the arm is to inject an IV anesthetic into a vein in which circulation has been blocked by a tourniquet. This type of anesthesia is known as an IV REGIONAL or BIER BLOCK.
  •  What is GENERAL anesthesia?
    • The entire body, including the brain, is anesthetized. The patient has no awareness, of the surgical experience.
    • IV anesthetic is injected directly into the blood stream -- Gas anesthetic enters the body through the lungs where is passes into the bloodstream.
    • Often a plastic endotracheal tube is used to administer gas anesthetics with this. It is normal if you have a slight sore throat after surgery.
    • All body functions (pulse, respiration, blood pressure, temperature) are carefully monitored by the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist.
  •  What are the normal side effects associated with anesthesia?
    • Dry throat / mouth - because normal secretions are lessened during anesthesia.
    • Nausea / Vomiting
    • Short Memory Lapse
    • Sore throat
    • Sore jaw
    • Risks are low depending on patients physical condition and the type of surgery hazards have been greatly reduced through use of new drugs and equipment.
 

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