Years ago it was necessary to give large doses of anesthetic drugs to achieve the deep level of muscle relaxation required for surgery. Modern anesthetic methods work differently. Induction of anesthesia with a mask and anesthetic gas or vapor is rare these days, although vapors can be used that are pleasant to inhale and rapid in their action. But mostly the anesthetist puts you to sleep (if you are not already asleep from a preoperative injection) by giving a small injection of a rapidly acting and powerful drug.
Modern induction agents work so quickly and efficiently that, from the patient's point of view, the injection has no sooner started than he or she is waking up in the recovery room, or back in bed, astonished to find that it is all over.
Methods of removing all pain sensation from limited areas of the body have improved so much in recent years that many operations, formerly possible only under general anesthesia, can now be done using some form of local anesthesia or regional nerve block. This is often accomplished through injection into skin, mucous membranes (mouth), etc. via a small needle. This is common for dental procedures, lump and bump removal and other minor surgeries.
There is no loss of consciousness with local anesthesia, although sometimes this method is combined with a sedative such as diazepam so that one feels thoroughly relaxed. Patients under local anesthesia are able to talk to their surgeon, and some may even watch the operation taking place by means of a video monitor above the operating table.
Injections into The Spine
Because the nerves relaying sensation to the brain are all packed closely together as they enter the spinal cord, a small injection in this area can cause temporary anesthesia over a wide area of the body below the point of the injection. In epidural anesthesia (which is widely used in childbirth) and spinal block anesthesia, the anesthetic drug is concentrated in the region of the back part of the lower end of the spinal cord. These methods are used mainly for surgery on the legs and lower abdomen.
This can be used in parts of the body that are able to absorb local anesthetic drugs, by spraying or by applying it as a cream. Types of surface anesthesia include creams, gels, lozenges, sprays and suppositories.
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