General Anesthesia: General anesthesia involves rendering the patient unconscious using intravenous drugs (such as sedatives, narcotics, and muscle relaxants) and inhalation agents (such as nitrous oxide, oxygen and anesthetic gases). This often includes the use of a breathing tube, which is inserted in the windpipe to ensure proper breathing while the patient is anesthetized. A person’s individual reactions as well as the necessities of the procedure determine what agents and dosage are to be administered.
MAC (Monitored Anesthesia Care): MAC differs from general anesthesia in that the patient maintains their heart and lung function without the direct support or intervention on the part of the anesthetist. The patient is usually very sedate, but may still be able to hear and respond to their medical providers and remember some or all of their experience.. MAC is comprised of local anesthesia (or nerve blocks) performed by the surgeon or anesthesia provider, and monitoring the patient’s vital signs, The selection of sedatives and tranquilizers is carefully selected by the anesthesia provider.
Regional Anesthesia: Regional anesthesia is performed by the anesthesia provider, and involves one of a number of methods producing numbness in the area of surgery. Like MAC, regional anesthetic methods are supplemented by sedatives and tranquilizers, which cause drowsiness or sleep.
Major types of regional anesthesia include:
Spinal – This is most often used for abdominal, pelvic, rectal, or lower extremity surgery. A single dose of the anesthetic agent is injected directly into the spinal cord in the lower back, causing numbness in the lower body.
Epidural and caudal anesthesia – Similar to a spinal anesthetic, this epidural/caudal anesthesia is commonly used for surgery of the lower limbs, and during labor and childbirth. By continually infusing drugs through a thin catheter that has been placed into the space that surrounds the spinal cord in the lower back, numbness is achieved in the lower body.
Nerve blocks – A local anesthetic, injected near a specific nerve or group of nerves, blocks pain from the area of the body supplied by the nerve. Most commonly, nerve blocks are used for procedures on the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face.