Anaesthesia refers to a state of loss of sensation in the body, which is performed under highly regulated settings by a medical professional, on the patient undergoing surgery. It is not a standalone diagnostic or treatment procedure by itself but is carried out prior to certain invasive assays or therapies, for example, during colonoscopy or before surgery to treat spinal cord injury. The chief purpose of anaesthesia is to nullify the perceptions of the particular region in the body and bring about a sedated effect on the patient which makes them go to sleep. This assists in averting any major uneasiness or pain in the patient and enables the physician to proceed with the investigative or surgical protocols without any interruptions.
Specific drugs and medicines are utilised to induce anaesthesia in the patient and these are termed anaesthetics, which help in conducting many different types of anaesthesia procedures. Anaesthetic drugs broadly fall under two categories – local anaesthetics and general anaesthetics. Local anaesthetics induce numbness only in a very specific region of the body and is used for minor medical processes wherein the patient still remains fully conscious. On the other hand, general anaesthetics prompt a completely unconscious state in the patient and are utilised for serious surgeries and critical operations.
Types Of Anaesthesia:
There are numerous kinds of anaesthesia, with four classes being used majorly in most medical procedures. These include:
This involves a local anaesthetic that is administered to only a specific portion of the body to numb the senses in that vicinity for carrying out surgeries, invasive diagnostics and preventing intense pain in the patient, like rubbing in a topical anaesthetic on the teeth and gums in a root canal treatment for ensuring oral health.
Epidural anaesthesia also focuses on a local area of the lower half of the body and induces loss of sensation in the belly, hips, pelvis, legs, being widely used in operations of childbirth.
Spinal anaesthesia is yet another kind of regional anaesthesia, wherein complete numbness is triggered in the base end of the spinal cord and low back, to enable unobstructed operations to be carried out in these zones.
Sedation refers to a form of general anaesthesia wherein the patient becomes very drowsy and the physical and mental activities of the body are suppressed. Sedation is sometimes coupled with regional anaesthesia to lessen painful sensations in the person while proceeding with minor invasive protocols and operations.
Anaesthesia is administered by anaesthetists, who are doctors with special and advanced training in this procedure, under well-equipped settings in clinics or hospitals. After carefully assessing the medical history and pre-existing illnesses in the patient, the anaesthetist dispenses the anaesthetic drugs. These medicines are in the form of ointments, drops, sprays, intravenous injections or gaseous emissions to be inhaled from the surroundings as the patient breathes in. Once the required level of sedation is achieved in the patient, the doctor proceeds with the pertinent invasive protocols or surgical procedures.
As long as the anaesthesia procedure is carried out in controlled settings by a certified anaesthetist in a recognised clinic/hospital, the patient does not encounter any severe consequences to health. Only slight side effects occur, which subside within a few hours, such as:
- Itching at the side of sedation
- Feeling dizzy, with vertigo
- Body pain and weakness
- Feeling feverish with chills
- Inability to pass urine normally
- Minor bruises and tenderness in the skin
Certain grave complications do arise as a result of anaesthesia, but these occur very rarely. In general, anaesthesia is a safe procedure that effectively dulls pain, discomfort in the body during invasive protocols and surgeries.
The risks associated with anaesthesia include permanent nerve damage or paralysis, anaphylaxis which is a serious allergic reaction and at times, even death if the patient suffers from chronic/acute co-morbid conditions and has to undergo complex surgeries.