The answers come from
Anesthesia & You... Anesthesia for Ambulatory Surgery, an informational document prepared by the American Society of Anesthesiologists through the cooperative efforts of the Society's Committees on Communications and the Committee on Ambulatory Surgical Care.

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What types of anesthesia are available?
Decisions regarding your anesthesia are tailored specifically for you. The type of anesthesia you receive depends on your general health and the type of surgical procedure as well as your preferences, when possible. Based on the information your anesthesiologist has gathered from your records and preanesthesia visit, potential choices for your anesthetic care will be discussed with you.

There are four main types of anesthesia from which to choose:

  • General anesthesia provides loss of consciousness and loss of sensation.
  • Regional anesthesia involves the injection of a local anesthetic to provide numbness, loss of pain or loss of sensation to a large region of the body. Regional anesthetic techniques include spinal blocks, epidural blocks and arm and leg blocks. Medications can be given that will make you comfortable, drowsy and blur your memory.
  • Monitored anesthesia care consists of medications to make you drowsy and to relieve pain. These medications supplement local anesthetic injections, which are often given by your surgeon. While you are sedated, your anesthesiologist will monitor your vital body functions.
  • Local anesthesia, which provides numbness to a small area, is often injected by your surgeon. In this case, there may be no anesthesia team member with you.