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Anesthesia: Types, Stages, Usage, Cost and Side effects

Last Updated: Mar 19, 2020

What is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia refers to the process of controlling pain and other sensations during surgeries or any medical procedures by using medicines known as anesthetics. Anesthetics are either given through injections or are inhaled. This medicine is used for blocking pain and making a person unconscious during surgery, etc. It also helps to control the blood pressure, blood flow, heart rate, and breathing rate of any person.

What are the different types of anesthesia?

In general these are categorised into four types:

1. General Anesthesia:

This type is used when a patient is undergoing major operation like knee and hip replacements, heart surgeries or to treat cancer. These surgeries and treatment can not be performed without giving general anesthesia. While it is given to your body, you will be unconscious and many of your body functions will be slowed down. The doctor will place a thin tube in your throat which will help you to breathe. During the entire procedure, your anesthesiologist will keep monitoring your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure to make sure everything is going well and you are free of pain.

2. Regional Anesthesia:

It is only given to numb the particular part of the body that would feel pain and the patient is still conscious but sedated. It is provided by a nurse anesthetist. Anesthesia injection is given on the particular area with a numbing medication that causes unconsciousness below the injection site. For example, if you are undergoing hand surgery, then your anesthesiologist will numb your entire hand and will continue your surgery.

3. Local Anesthesia:

It is also known as Local anesthetic which is injected in a body to make a small area of the body unconscious. Local anesthesia is given if you are undergoing skin biopsy, breast biopsy or during treatment of fractured bone or stitching a deep cut. During the procedure, you will be awake and feel some pressure but you will not feel any kind of a pain in the particular area.

4. Monitored Anesthesia Care :

MAC is also known as twilight sleep or conscious sedation. It is administered through an intravenous process to make the patient sleep during the entire surgical procedure. The patient is awake but in a groggy condition. This type of anesthesia is used during colonoscopy, bronchoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD/Upper GI.

What is the difference between local and general anesthesia?

Local vs. general anesthesia:

Local anesthesia is given to numb the specific part of the body. It is injected into a body for small procedures like dental treatment, eye surgery, removal of mole etc. It allows patients to stay awake. While General anesthesia is provided if you are undergoing any long procedures. A patient will not be able to remember anything happening during the process if the general anesthesia is given. The side effects which one can feel after taking general anesthesia are vomiting, nausea, chills, itching, confusion, dry mouth, sleepiness and others.

How is anesthesia administered?

The various types of anesthesia are either given to the patients through injections or gases and vapours. The ways through which the various anesthesia are administered are as follows:

A. Local anesthesia: It is applied via an injection in the surgical area in order to block the pain. Thus, it results in the numbness of that part of the body while the person remains conscious.

B. General anesthesia: It works on the brain and the central nervous system of the patient and makes him/her unconscious and unaware. The anesthetic is administered to the circulatory system of the patient through injected drugs or inhaled gases. This kind of anesthesia is opted for major surgeries which may involve significant blood loss, breathing difficulty, etc.

C. Regional anesthesia: In this type of anesthesia, injection containing local anesthetic drugs are administered around major nerves of the body or/and the spinal cord. This is done so that a larger part of the body can be blocked from feeling pain. These medicines are also given to make the patient feel relaxed or sleepy during surgery. Regional anesthesia is mainly of two types. They are as follows:

  • Peripheral nerve blocks: This is specially used to prevent the patient from sensing pain around a particular nerve or group of nerves. These blocks are commonly used to perform procedures on the arms, hands, legs, feet or face.
  • Epidural and spinal anesthesia: This medicine is used to block the pain from the spinal cord area or lower portion of the body such as hips, belly or legs. Therefore, it is administered directly in the spinal cord as well as the nerves that are connected to it.

Describe the four stages of anesthesia?

There are four different stages of anesthesia:

Stage of analgesia or disorientation:

Stage I: This phase initiates after the administration of the anesthetic dose and proceed until the loss of consciousness.

Stage of excitement:

Stage II: In this stage, breathing, heart rate become inconstant. Pupil dilation, coughing, vomiting may also occur.

Stage of surgical anesthesia:

Stage III: During this stage, the muscles relax, vomiting stops and breathing is slowed. The patient is now ready to be operated.

Stage of overdose:

Stage IV: When too much of medication is administered then it result to cardiovascular or respiratory collapse.

How does anesthetic work?

Anesthesia is sometimes given intravenously and sometimes inhaled from pressure tanks. This makes you or some parts of your body unconscious so that doctors can continue to operate and treat you without giving any pain. There are a few types which are provided according to your disease. The anesthesiologist will demonstrate the anesthesia awareness details and then injects it according to the treatment and your body’s need. While you will be semi conscious and your particular part of the body will be numb, the doctors will easily continue the procedure and you will feel no pain during the entire process.

What are the side effects of anesthesia?

General anesthesia has certain side effects if not administered in the proper manner:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea – This refers to a condition when an individual stops breathing while being asleep.
  • There are several other side effects which include shivering, nausea or vomiting, headache, sore throat, the rise in temperature, high blood pressure, delayed return to normalcy, etc.
  • There are some rare life-threatening effects which include malignant hyperthermia, respiratory failure and even death in very rare cases.
  • Other types may have effects like a prolonged period of numbness, allergies, etc.

What are the uses of anesthesia?

Anesthesia is sometimes used to numb the feelings of the specific part of the human body and sometimes make you unconscious completely so that the surgery or treatment can be done without giving any pain to the patient.

  • General anesthesia is generally used when any major operation is done.
  • Local anesthesia is used to make a small part of the human body unconscious.
  • Regional anesthesia: It is also given to numb the specific part of the body during the surgery. But in this type, the patient is conscious but sedated.
  • MAC: This is given through IV; in this type, the patient is completely asleep during the entire surgical process.

How long does anesthesia last?

Anesthesia may last for 45 minutes to 4 hours depending upon the anesthetic drug used. While local anesthesia may last for an hour or so, general anesthesia or the epidural and spinal anesthesia usually lasts for 3-4 hours.

How much does anesthesia cost in India?

The cost varies between Rs. 2500 to Rs. 60,000 depends on the procedure opted for.

Is anesthesia safe?

Anesthesia is only safe if it is given in the amount required by your body. If anesthesia given to you is more than your body weight, then it will be a risky condition for you. Therefore, it is strictly advised that the dosage of anesthesia should be only provided by anesthesiologist. Overall anesthesia is safe and again it depends on the doctor who administered it .

  • Safety: High
  • Effectiveness: Very High
  • Timeliness: Medium
  • Relative Risk: Low
  • Side Effects: Low
  • Recovery Time: Medium
  • Price Range: Rs. 2500 - Rs. 60,000


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Written ByDrx Hina FirdousPhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child CarePharmacology
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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