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People who might need information about anesthesia include:

Surgical patients
Patients undergoing painful or uncomfortable non-surgical procedures - e.g. endoscopy, colonoscopy, MRI studies
Children (and their parents) undergoing various procedures which an adult might handle without anesthesia, but which is much easier and safer to accomplish with anesthesia in paediatric age group.

Methods of Anesthesia:

General anesthesia: The type of anesthesia familiar to most people is general anesthesia. During general anesthesia the patient is unconscious and cannot be aroused, or made alert. Examples of surgery that are usually done under general anesthesia are open heart surgery, lung surgery, brain surgery and operations of the abdomen.

local anesthetia: Techniques in which nerves are blocked using so-called "local anesthetic" medications are called regional anesthesia. Regional anesthesia is used for a variety of major and minor surgeries. It is frequently used for orthopedic surgical procedures such as knee or hip replacements,eye surgeries and for minor repairs etc.

Epidural anesthesia: is a form of regional anesthesia in which a narrow tube, (also called a catheter) is placed in the epidural space in your back. The epidural space is a part of the spine that is in close contact with nerves. By injecting anesthetic medication into this space, the spinal nerves are numbed. An epidural requires the insertion of a special needle into the back. The epidural needle can be inserted with very little discomfort by an experienced practitioner, using local anesthesia to numb up the skin and tissues of the back.

Spinal anesthesia: An alternative to the epidural technique is a "spinal" anesthesia. This technique is similar to an epidural. With a spinal anesthetic, a special needle is inserted in the lower part of the back, and anesthetic medication is injected through the needle directly into the fluid that bathes the spinal nerves. The needle is then removed.

The effects of spinal and epidural anesthesia, and of other regional anesthesia techniques, are very similar - they temporarily block nerves, so that pain is not felt. As well as blocking sensation, these anesthesia techniques also decrease the ability to move the affected part of the body. As the medication wears off, the affected parts will recover both sensation and movement.

Preparing to meet with an anesthesiologist

In order to provide you with safe anesthesia and an optimal recovery from the surgery, the anesthesiologist needs to know your medical history in detail. This includes information about allergies, medications (including herbal and over-the-counter medicines), and previous anesthesias and surgeries, especially if there were any problems or complications. It is helpful to bring a list of your medications and their dosages. The anesthesiologist will also do a physical examination that focuses on the airway, heart and lungs, so it is wise to wear comfortable loose clothing.

Certain tests may need to be completed before your surgery to define problems that can affect the anesthesia and the safe conduct of the surgical procedure. Hospital records, notes from your doctor, and the results of previous tests, especially those involving the heart and lungs, may be of special value to the anesthesiologist.

The anesthesiologist will inform you of the different options for anesthesia, their risks and benefits, so that you can understand, and participate in the decision-making process.