What is the treatment?
Anesthesia refers to the process of controlling pain or other sensations during surgeries or any other procedures (capable of causing pain) by using medicines known as anesthetics. Anesthetics are either given through injections or through inhaled vapors or gases. This medicine is used for blocking pain, 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.
There are various types of anesthesia – Local anesthesia, general anesthesia and regional anesthesia which further includes Peripheral nerve blocks, Epidural and spinal anesthesia.
An anesthesiologist determines the quantity and types of anesthesia a person would require. Immense care is taken while administering anesthetics as any change in the prescribed quantity can lead to adverse effects.
How is the treatment done?
The various types of anesthesia are either given to the patients through injections or gases and vapors. The ways through which the various anesthesia are administered are as follows:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
The following people are eligible for the various types of anesthesia:
- Prior to any major operation, a person is eligible for general anesthesia as the surgery requires him/her to remain unconsciousness. These surgeries usually take several hours and involve the chance of significant blood loss along with inducing breathing problem.
- A person who needs any kind of minor surgery for example surgeries in hands, legs, etc. are eligible for local anesthesia.
- If the patients need surgery around the spinal cord or the lower back portion of the body, then he/she becomes eligible for epidural and spinal anesthesia.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
A person having various health and mental conditions should discuss it with his/her doctor so that the proper quantity of anesthesia can be determined. Otherwise, those patients may suffer from adverse reactions.
Are there any side effects?
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 of anesthesia may have effects like prolonged period of numbness, allergies, etc.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
Post-treatment guidelines include:
- Keeping the patient under observation to monitor the person’s temperature, blood pressure, feeling of nausea and most importantly the proper functioning of the body.
- The patient must follow eating and drinking guidelines as given by the doctor.
- A person after recovering from the effect of anesthetic drugs should avoid driving, traveling on a plane, any strenuous activity, etc. It is always recommended not to travel alone immediately after recovering from anesthesia.
How long does it take to recover?
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.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
The cost depends on the procedure.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
Once the effects of anesthesia wear off, the patient gains his/her consciousness.
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
Some herbal and homeopathic alternatives are available which can be used as alternatives for the various anesthetic drugs.