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Anesthesia Types

Below is an explanation of different anesthesia experiences.  Sometimes they are used in combination and sometimes the anesthesia team will have to change from one version to another.  Our patients' safety is our number one goal and that combined with the necessities of your surgery may necessitate one anesthetic over another.

General Anesthesia

Most surgeries are done under a general anesthetic.  This means that the patient is completely unconscious and will have no sensation or memory of the surgery.  During general anesthesia a breathing tube or other device is placed in the airway to protect it and ensure proper breathing.  This is most often performed after the patient is "asleep" and before they "wake-up."  This may leave one with a sore throat.


Neuraxial Anesthesia

Spinal & Epidural

Surgeries of the lower abdomen or lower extremities can often be accomplished by numbing the patient from the belly to their toes.  This is done by an injection into the back: either an epidural or spinal.  A spinal is usually used when a single injection is required.  If there is a need for ongoing pain control an epidural injection is often given.  An epidural allows the physician to place a catheter that can continuously infuse medication for pain control.  Like any injection into the body, there is always a risk of bleeding, infection or damage to adjacent tissues when these procedures are performed.  However, Botsford Anesthesiologists perform them everyday and the benefits far outweigh the risks.

For most patients, other medications will be given in the operating room to keep them relaxed while the surgeon works.  Most patients will have no memory of their surgery and often assume they had a general anesthetic.


Deep Sedation / MAC

Local with sedation

Many smaller procedures are done with deep sedation.  This involves giving medications in the operating room to keep the patient relaxed and comfortable.  The surgeon will then use numbing medications at the site of surgery to keep the patient from experiencing pain.  With this type of anesthesia patients maintain their own airway and don't require a breathing tube like with a general anesthetic.

Most patients will have no memory of their surgery and mistakenly assume they had a general anesthetic.  Nothing has gone wrong if you have some sense of awareness during parts of this type of anesthetic.  You may be aware, but you will be comfortable.


Peripheral Nerve Block

If your surgery involves only part of your arm or leg, the physician anesthesiologist may do a nerve block to numb that extremity.  A single injection may last up to 24 hours.  For procedures that require longer and more complex pain control, a catheter may be placed in the area of injection.  This catheter will be connected to a portable infusion pump the patient can wear for up to 3 days of pain control.  A peripheral nerve block may be combined with a general anesthetic or neuraxial anesthetic.


Labor & Delivery


For our expectant moms, we offer strategies to ease the pain of childbirth.  These stratagies most commonly include epidurals for labor pain and spinal anesthetics for cesarean section.  Refer to the section above on Neuraxial anesthesia for more information,


A child needing surgery can be stressful for them and their family. An anesthesiologist will discuss in detail the anesthestic plan when you arrive. Most surgery on children is done with a general anesthetic and often no IV is placed until after your child is "asleep."  Oral medication can be given in the pre-operative area to relax your child and make the transition into the operating room a more pleasant experience.

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