General Anesthesia - General anesthesia affects the brain and central nervous system to make the patient unconscious, pain/sensation-free and unaware which is why it is commonly referred to as “being put under”. It is administered via the patient's circulatory system by a combination of inhaled gas and injected drugs. After the initial injection, anesthesia is maintained with inhaled gas anesthetics and additional drugs through an intravenous line (IV).
Regional Anesthesia - involves injection of a local anesthetic (numbing agent) around major nerves or the spinal cord to block pain from a larger but still limited part of the body. You will likely receive medicine to help you relax or sleep during surgery.
Major Types of Regional Anesthesia Include:
Nerve blocks - A local anesthetic is injected near a specific nerve or group of nerves to block pain from the area of the body supplied by the nerve. Nerve blocks are most commonly used for procedures on the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face. Example - a Brachial Plexus block may be used by your anesthesiologist to provide anesthesia to your entire arm and shoulder.
Spinal - often used for lower abdominal, pelvic, rectal, or lower extremity surgery. This type of anesthetic involves injecting a single dose of the anesthetic agent directly into the spinal cord in the mid-to-lower back, causing numbness and lack of sensation in the lower body.
Epidural, and caudal anesthesia - this anesthetic is similar to a spinal anesthetic and also is commonly used for surgery of the lower limbs and during labor and childbirth. This type of anesthesia involves continually infusing drugs through a thin catheter that has been placed into the space that surrounds the spinal cord in the lower back, causing numbness in the lower body.
Local Anesthesia - is medicine given to temporarily stop the sense of pain in a particular area of the body. A patient remains conscious during a local anesthetic. For minor surgery, a local anesthetic can be administered via injection to the site. However, when a large area needs to be numbed, or if a local anesthetic injection will not penetrate deep enough, physicians may resort to regional anesthetics.