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Anesthesia blocks the feeling of pain and other sensations. Anesthesia is generally used so that surgery can be performed without unnecessary pain. There are three types of anesthesia:

  • Local
  • Regional
  • General

Anesthesia is usually administered by a specialized physician (anesthesiologist) or a nurse anesthetist.

When anesthesia will be used, ask:

  • About the qualifications of the person who will administer the anesthesia.
  • The possible side effects and risks of having anesthesia for your particular case.

There are risks associated with anesthesia, especially in an outpatient setting.

Patients who have ever had a family member experience complications during anesthesia should discuss their own risks before undergoing anesthesia.

Ideally, meet the anesthesiologist before the operation. At least, be sure your anesthesiologist knows about all of your medical conditions, including all allergies and any medications you have been taking. This information may affect your response to the anesthesia.

For more information, see:

To Learn More

Types Of People Who Administer Anesthesia

While anesthesiology is basically safe, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Roger Moore, of the American Society of Anesthesiologists says: "There are thousands of things that can go wrong that need the vigilance and training of an anesthesiology professional."

The more procedures the person has done with the surgeon, the better.

Anesthesiologist (M.D.)

The gold standard. Education includes a 4 year anesthesiology residence program in a hospital. Many anesthesiologists become board certified.

 You can verify a doctor's board certification at: offsite link.  Under "Verify A Physician's Certification" click on "Search Now."

Certified registered nurse anesthetist (C.R.N.A.)

A registered nurse who has completed an extra two years of specialized training in anesthesiology.

If a nurse anesthetist is assigned to your surgery, make sure a board-certified anesthesiologist will supervise.

Surgeon (M.D.)

Doctors without a certification in anesthesiology. Surgeons often act as anesthesiologists in plastic surgery centers -- requiring the doctor to focus on two separate areas at once.

Anesthesiologist's Assistance-Certified (A.A.-C.)

Usually referred to as "anesthetists." A.A-C's go through a national education program followed by a national certification exam. They work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist who may be overseeing more than one operation at a time.

Registered Nurse (RN)

Depending on the law of the state, some RNs are allowed to administer intravenous drugs under a doctor's supervision and to monitor vital signs.

Anesthesia In An Outpatient Setting

Patients who undergo procedure outside of hospitals face a risk of complications that mya reqwuire emergency transfers to a hospital.

Patients should speak with the people who run the center where the procedure will be performed to learn about:

  • The safety/quality standards in place.
  • Whether there are any state regulations which protect patients undergoing medical procedures in an office setting - and whether the center complies with those regulations. If you're not satisfied with the answers you get from the center, contact your state Department of Health for information.

Local/Regional/General Anesthesia

Local Anesthesia

Local anesthesia numbs only a part of the body for a short period of time. For example, at the dentist, a shot of Novocain numbs a tooth and the surrounding gum. Not all procedures done with local anesthesia are painless.

Regional Anesthesia

Regional anesthesia numbs a larger portion of the body for a few hours, for example, the lower part of the body. In most cases, the patient is awake when regional anesthesia is used.

General Anesthesia

"A general" numbs the entire body for the duration of the surgery. You will be unconscious if you have general anesthesia.

For More Information About The Different Types Of Anesthesia

For information on the different types of anesthesia and sedation used in different types of surgeries contact:

  • The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), 520 North Northwest Highway, Park Ride, IL 60068-2573, Tel.: 847. 825.5586, offsite link 
  • The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) 222 S. Prospect Ave, Park Ridge, IL 60068-4001, offsite link. Tel.: 847. 692.7050.