Patient information

Anesthesiologist prepares twin brothers for surgery

US Navy volunteer anesthesiologist prepares twin brothers from the Dominican Republic for surgery.

Analgesia is the full or partial relief of painful sensations. Postoperative analgesia refers to the full or partial relief of painful sensation after surgery. Anesthesia is usually considered to be a more intense blockage of all sensations, including muscle movement. Your wishes, the type of operation, and your medical condition are important in selecting the type of anesthesia and pain relief you will receive.

What are the types of anesthesia? 
There are three main categories of anesthesia: general, regional and local. Each has many forms and uses. Your anesthesiologist, in consultation with your surgeon, will determine the best type of anesthesia for you, taking your desires into consideration whenever possible. These options will be discussed during your preoperative interview with the anesthesiologist.

  1. General Anesthesia, which involves the total loss of consciousness, pain sensation and protective airway responses.
  2. Local Anesthesia, which provides numbness to a small area of the body, such as a dermatologist might use to numb the skin around a mole before removing it. For some surgical procedures, a local anesthetic may be injected into the skin and tissues to numb a specific location.
  3. Regional Anesthesia, which can include spinal blocks, epidural blocks or (peripheral [arm, leg or head] nerve) blocks. If you have regional anesthesia, your anesthesiologist injects medication near a cluster of nerves to numb only the area of your body that requires surgery. You may remain awake or you may be given a sedative. Spinal and epidural blocks involve interrupting sensation from the legs or abdomen by injecting local anesthetic medication in or near the spinal canal. Other blocks can be performed for surgery on your extremities, or limbs, blocking sensations from the arm or leg.

Learn more about anesthesia:

NOTE: Material on this page does not constitute medical advice. Consult with your physician concerning specific medical conditions. The ASRA Website Committee thanks Amy Kipp, MD, of Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, VA, for reviewing and updating this material as of 12/2015.