What is it? 
What is Anesthesia?

first ether
    In 1846, a few weeks after open drop ether was first successfully demonstrated at surgery in Boston, Dr Oliver Wendell Holmes devised the word Anaesthesia.  (For more see Tom Evans's excellent history )
Apparently Dr Holmes constructed the word Anaesthesia from dusty old fragments of Greek he found lying around Harvard Medical School.  'An-' : meaning without, '-aesthesia' : feeling.  Ergo, we have the modern anesthesiologist, i.e. a doctor with no feelings.  ... But seriously folks ... Dr Holmes suggested the name anaesthesia for the great new discovery to describe the induced state of  "insensibility to objects of touch."

    Today we use the term anesthesia more broadly to describe freedom from pain.

    Anesthesia is freedom from pain.

    Three main types of anesthesia.

                               1 -- General anesthesia produces
                                  unconsciousness, a loss of
                                  sensation throughout the
                                  entire body.

    General anesthesia is required for most operations involving the inner abdomen, thorax, and cranium.

                                2 -- Regional anesthesia produces a
                                  loss of sensation to a specific
                                  region of the body.

    Regional includes spinal, epidural, and a variety of nerve blocks, especially suited to operations on the limbs or lower abdomen, such as fractures, hernia repair and Caesarean Section.  Regional anesthesia employs local anesthetic drugs.  (Confused yet?)

                                3 -- Local anesthesia produces a
                                  loss of sensation to a small
                                  specific area of the body.

    Most people has experienced some form of local, commonly at the dentist's office.

    A fourth variety, or sub-type, is Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC).  Sometimes termed Conscious Sedation, MAC  usually combines local anesthesia with IV sedation (tranquilizer drugs and narcotics, sometimes hypnotics)  to produce a state of relaxation and amnesia without incurring all the risks of general anesthesia.  For most people MAC feels very much like general anesthesia.  Dental work, colonoscopy, many procedures can be done far more comfortably and safely under MAC.  (Due to risk of respiratory depression MAC should usually be administered only by anesthesia providers specifically trained, equipped and ready to intervene with airway assistance.)

    Learn more here.  And on the Links page of GasPasser.com.

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