Types of Anesthesia

There are three major types of anesthesia: local, general and regional.

Local anesthesia

This kind of anesthesia is applied by an injection to the proposed surgical site. It is a very effective method in dealing with small surgeries such as simple fractures or dislocations of digits, small lacerations; also it can be used in minor elective procedures such as release of trigger fingers or excision of skin lesions.

Advantages:

  • Minimal side effects;
  • Fast procedure;
  • You can go home on the same day shortly after the procedure is complete;
  • Pain relief may last for a few hours after the surgery;
  • It can be applied in many places such as the clinic or the emergency room so you don’t necessarily need hospital admission; and
  • It can be administered by your doctor with no need of anesthetist presence.

Disadvantages:

  • It has limited applications, and
  • The anesthetic initial injection stings for the first few seconds.

General anesthesia

This is a procedure where medications are given intravenously and by inhalation that affects the brain, leaving you in a deep sleep. Usually the procedure starts in the anesthetic bay when the anesthetist with his or her technician starts connecting you to several monitors and insert one or more intravenous access in your limbs, through which medications will be given that make you drowsy. Then an oxygen mask is applied to your face and you will be asked to take a deep breath. You may notice a funny smell in the mask, this is the anesthetic so don’t be alarmed. Once you are asleep then the anesthetist will insert a tube into your throat and hook this tube to the ventilator.

It is our routine practice that we use special monitoring systems that make us well aware of the depth of anesthesia so as to make sure there is no chance you wake up in the middle of the operation.

Advantages:

  • You will be asleep during the procedure,
  • There is no time limit for the procedure so general anesthesia is commonly used if you are having an extensive surgical procedure that takes a long time and the possibility of operating on multiple parts of the body at the same time.

Disadvantages:

  • Not every patient can have general anesthesia since some patients may be too sick for that,
  • It has some risks, which may be increased if you already have heart disease or a chronic lung condition,
  • It may cause more blood loss,
  • It increases the risk of deep venous thrombosis,
  • The tube inserted down your throat may give you a sore throat and hoarse voice for a few days,
  • Other side effects such as headache, nausea, and drowsiness are also common.

Regional anesthesia

Regional anesthesia involves numbing a specific area of the body, without affecting your brain or breathing. In this type of anesthesia you may remain awake so you could watch the surgery on the monitor screen such as; in case of knee arthroscopy, or you may receive sedation to relax you and put you in a light sleep.

There are a few different types of regional anesthesia. The most common are spinal, epidural and plexus block anesthesia. Spinal and epidural anesthesia are commonly used for joint replacement surgery in the hip and the knee. Plexus block are commonly used for upper limb surgery anesthesia.

Advantages:

  • Less blood loss during the surgery,
  • Less chance of lung problems and
  • Fewer complications from blood clotting afterwards.

Disadvantages:

  • Short action so cannot be used for long surgeries,
  • More technically demanding procedure,
  • You need a urinary catheter inserted during the surgery since you may have difficulty urinating until the effect of anesthesia wears off,
  • Other side effects like headache and allergic reactions are also possible.