Different types of anaesthesia may be used individually or in combination as appropriate to facilitate surgery and provide pain relief. A Specialist Anaesthetist will consult with the Patient and the Surgeon to offer the safest and most appropriate type of anaesthesia.
You are put into a medically induced state of unconsciousness for the duration of the operation. This is usually achieved by injecting drugs through a cannula placed in a vein and maintained with intravenous drugs or a mixture of gases, which you will breathe. While you remain unaware of what is happening around you, the Anaesthetist monitors your condition (e.g. airway, breathing and circulation) closely and constantly adjusts the level of anaesthesia. You will often be asked to breathe oxygen through a mask just before your anaesthesia starts.
This involves injection of local anaesthetic around major nerve bundles supplying body areas. A nerve block numbs the part of the body where the surgeon operates and this may avoid the need for general anaesthesia. You may be awake or sedated or it may be combined with a general anaesthesia. Examples of regional anaesthesia include epidurals, spinal blocks, eye blocks for cataracts or other eye procedures, and peripheral nerve blocks such as the brachial plexus which supplies the arm. Typically numbness can last several hours but may last up to several days. As the local anaesthetic wears off, numbness will diminish and surgical pain may return, in which case alternate methods of pain relief will be prescribed.
A local anaesthetic drug is injected at the site of the surgery to cause numbness. You will be awake but feel no pain. An obvious example of local anaesthesia is numbing an area of skin before having a cut stitched. May be used alone or in combination with sedation or general anaesthesia.
The Anaesthetist administers drugs to make you relaxed and drowsy. This is sometimes called ‘twilight sleep’ or ‘intravenous sedation’ and is often administered for eye surgery, some plastic surgery and some endoscopy procedures. Some patients will have little or no recall of events with ‘sedation’. Deeper levels of sedation can have effects similar to general anaesthesia on you.