If you have ever had surgery or gone to a doctor’s office for a procedure, you likely have experienced anesthesia. Anesthesia is a temporary loss of sensation induced in a controlled way for medical purposes. Anesthesia can make medical procedures safer and more comfortable by numbing an area of the body, blocking pain in an area of the body, or making the patient unconscious. The types of anesthesia depend on the type of procedure. Most small ENT procedures are done under local anesthesia.
What are the Types of Anesthesia?
There are four main categories of anesthesia:
· Local anesthesia, which is what the majority of small ENT procedures are done under.
· Regional anesthesia
· General anesthesia
Depending on the type of procedure, the type of anesthesia for your surgery or procedure can vary. In some cases, patients may choose which type of anesthesia to be used for their procedure.
Local anesthesia is localized to a small area and is usually applied through a needle or as a cream. Medications such as lidocaine can numb a small area and are used for procedures such as stitches or dental fillings for cavities. Sometimes, local anesthesia is used along with sedation during minor outpatient procedures or after a surgery for additional pain relief.
Local anesthesia is used for many ENT procedures to ensure patient comfort during the procedure and to help with pain relief. Usually a one-time injection or a topical numbing cream, local anesthesia is used for procedures such as:
· Balloon sinuplasty
· Nasal turbinate reduction
· Tympanic membrane patch in the ear
· Injectable fillers such as in nonsurgical nose jobs
· And more!
Like local anesthesia, regional anesthesia works on one area of the body—though this area is much larger than with local anesthesia. Regional anesthesia is used to numb an area of the body to block pain. A numbing medication is injected near the nerve cluster that provides sensation to the treatment area. Spinal and epidural anesthesia are two common examples of regional anesthesia used during childbirth or orthopedic procedures. Nerve blocks are another example of regional anesthesia, which can provide pain relief to the legs, arms, and shoulders.
The patient is completely unconscious when under general anesthesia and will have no awareness or sensation. Sometimes general anesthesia is administered through a breathing mask and other times through an IV. General anesthesia is used for major surgeries.
Under sedation, a patient is awake but will feel drowsy and relaxed. Depending on the patient’s comfort level and the type of procedure, different levels of sedation may be required. For example, under mild sedation a patient is awake and can answer questions during the procedure. Under moderate sedation, a patient may doze off but can wake up easily. Deep sedation is used for more invasive procedures such as an endoscopy.
Depending on the type of procedure or surgery you are in for, it is likely that some sort of anesthesia will be used. Your doctor will talk you through the procedure, discuss your medical history, and recommend the best anesthesia or combination of anesthesia for your care. With most ENT procedures, local anesthesia is the most efficient and safest for the patient.