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Anesthesia and Surgery

Anesthesia: What You Need to Know


Updated May 28, 2014

Anesthetist administering gas to patient
Science Photo Library - Ian Hooton/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

What is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia is the administration of medication to allow medical procedures to be done without pain, and in some cases, without the patient being aware during the procedure. There are a variety of types of anesthesia, as well as several different medical professions that are able to give anesthesia.

Anesthesia is used in a wide range of procedures, from highly invasive surgeries, such as open heart surgery, to more minor procedures, such as having a tooth extracted.

The Types of Anesthesia

There are four types of anesthesia:

The type of anesthesia used during your surgery typically depends upon the type of surgery, your state of health, the length of the surgery and the preferences of your anesthesia provider and surgeon.

Anesthesia Providers

Learn more about the medical professionals who are able to provide anesthesia, including doctors (anesthesiologist), nurse anesthetists, dentists/oral surgeons and anesthesiologist’s assistants. The level of training varies between different types of providers, with anesthesiologists having the highest level of training.

Questions to Ask Your Anesthesia Provider

Before you decide on whether or not to have anesthesia, or what type of anesthesia you prefer to get, find out the answers to key questions so you can have the safest possible procedure.

Things to Tell Your Anesthesia Provider

Make sure your anesthesia provider is well-informed about your health, medications and other issues. There are certain risks that can be avoided with an open conversation with prior to a procedure.

The Risks of Anesthesia

Just as no surgery is risk-free, no anesthesia is 100% safe either. Learn about the risks of anesthesia and the conditions that increase your risk so you can make an educated decision about your care.


Patient Education FAQ, American Society of Anesthesiologists http://www.asahq.org/patientEducation.htm

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