What is anesthesia?
Your treating physician has proposed to you to undergo a surgical procedure or physical investigation under anesthesia. The word ‘anesthesia’ originates from Greece and means insensitive or narcosis. There are two types of anesthesia:
- General anesthesia (narcosis)
- (Loco)regional anesthesia
General anesthesia (narcosis)
In case of surgery under general anesthesia (narcosis) you are asleep during the total procedure. Using an intravenous infusion, medication is administered that induces sleep (sedation) and reliefs pain (analgesia). After anesthesia induction, a small tube will be placed into the trachea via your mouth or nose. The tube is connected to a mechanical ventilation device and ensures accurate oxygenation of your body. At the end of the surgical procedure, sedative medication will be stopped and you will become awake and the tube will be removed. In some cases you may experience a soar throat or hoarseness, but this will be gone after a few days. You may further experience temporary nausea and vomiting after anesthesia. If you are familiar with nausea and vomiting after anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will provide you with anti-emetic medication. The anesthesiologist and anesthesia nurse continuously monitor your vital functions during anesthesia. These vital functions include respiration, heart frequency, blood pressure, body oxygen concentration, body temperature and coagulation.
In case of (loco)-regional anesthesia, a part of your body will be made insensible. During some surgical procedures, a combination of general anesthesia and (loco)-regional techniques will be employed for optimization of pain relief. (Loco)-regional anesthesia is divided into the following categories:
- Spinal anesthesia
- Epidural anesthesia
- Locoregional anesthesia
For all abovementioned anesthetic procedures you receive an intravenous line, in most cases in the hand or arm. The anesthesiologist uses the intravenous entrance for the administration of medication and fluids. You will further be connected to our monitoring system that measures heart- and pulmonary function. A blood pressure cuff will be placed around your arm, and you will be connected to an ECG device. The oxygen content in your blood will be continuously monitored using a finger pin.
In case of surgery using spinal anesthesia, you are free to choose whether you would like to visually follow the procedure. The anesthesiologist will anesthetize your skin, followed by injection of analgesic medication in your back. You will first experience a warm feeling in your legs. Subsequently, you will feel nothing in your legs, and you are disabled to move your legs. This loss of sense and movement will return after a couple of hours after the surgical procedure. This type of regional anesthesia is used for surgical procedures that are performed below the level of the belly button.
Epidural anesthesia is frequently used in combination with general anesthesia. Using a small catheter that is placed in the epidural space in your spine, an anesthetic agent is infused. This catheter is left behind in the epidural space after the surgical procedure, and can be removed at any time. It takes about 30 minutes before the epidural anesthesia is working sufficiently. During and after the surgical procedure, additional anesthetics may be administered using the small catheter. After surgery you are able to move your legs. Epidural anesthesia is mainly used for major surgery in order to provide optimal pain relief during and after the procedure.
Locoregional anesthesia is specifically used for pain relief in your limbs or small parts of your body. An arm or leg will be anesthetized by injection of anesthetic medication in the shoulder or hip joint. This type of anesthesia is frequently used for postoperative pain relief. In case of postoperative pain relief, a small catheter is left behind in the shoulder or hip joint to allow continuous infusion of anesthetics.