Anaesthesia is a word derived from the Greek, meaning 'without sensation'. Anaesthesia involves administering medications to eliminate sensations, including pain.
Modern anaesthesia is relatively safe due to high standards of training that emphasise quality and safety. Australia has one of the best patient safety records in the world.
There are several types of anaesthesia:
- General anaesthesia produces a drug-induced unconscious state. You will be unconscious and feel no pain during a procedure.
- Local anaesthesia involves an injection of local anaesthetic to numb a part of the body. It is usually used for minor surgery and may be combined with sedation or general anaesthesia.
- Regional anaesthesia includes nerve blocks and spinal or epidural blocks. This is when local anaesthetic is injected near major nerve bundles that supply large areas like the leg, arm, shoulder or abdomen.
- Procedural sedation is used for procedures where general anaesthesia is not required. It allows patients to tolerate procedures that may otherwise be uncomfortable or painful.
- Conscious sedation is a medication-induced state that reduces the patient’s level of consciousness. A sedated patient does not feel pain but can respond to verbal commands or touch.
- Analgesia is when a patient is given medications that act locally or generally to stop them from experiencing pain.