No invasive surgery would be successful today without anesthesia. A severely wounded body or one cut open for a procedure could be a traumatic experience for a patient without any drug to put them to sleep, suppress their pain, or forget the situation.
In the early days of medicine—as you would see in movies—doctors would ask their patients to take a swig of alcohol, put a tourniquet near the part to be sliced open, ask the patient to bite onto something hard and begin the terrifying procedure. Fortunately, medicine has taken a 360-degree turn from that. Today, various types of drugs are used to make sure the surgical operation is safe, and it is something the patient will not remember.
There are various types of anesthesia for different kinds of surgical procedures. Some procedures require the patient to be sedated and fully relaxed, while some would only need them to be numb but awake. A doctor may need to use a topical anesthetic for procedures like this. This topical anesthetic consists of lidocaine, epinephrine, and tetracaine—similar to Fagron Sterile products. This is the most commonly used anesthesia in emergency rooms, utilized primarily when patients’ wounds need to be sutured.
What Is Anesthesia?
Anesthesia is a medical treatment that uses various drugs called anesthetics to ensure a surgical procedure can be carried out safely and efficiently. As mentioned, there are different kinds of anesthesia needed for several types of surgical operations. Below are some kinds of anesthesia:
This would be required in numbing a small section of the body, and in most cases, the patient is awake. They are typically used in various procedures. For example, a dental procedure like extraction of a wisdom tooth where the mouth needs to be open. Likewise, in a lens replacement or cataract surgery, you need the eyes open. Also, the patient must be awake when conducting a biopsy and getting a portion of the skin.
This is commonly used during childbirth or in any operation below the chest and administered through an epidural. Here, the medication is injected through the spine. This blocks the pain in a much more significant portion of the body, and you can be conscious during the procedure.
Sedation – This type of anesthesia is used in procedures where you need to be relaxed but can be easily awakened, like in many cosmetic surgeries, colonoscopies, and cardiac catheterizations.
This type of anesthesia is utilized for invasive surgical procedures such as brain, chest, and abdominal surgeries. This kind of anesthesia relaxes the entire body, unconscious and insensitive to pain.
The Elements Of Anesthesia And What It Does To Your Body
Analgesia – Anesthesia needs to contain something that would relieve pain. For this, anesthesiologists use a strong pain reliever like fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid that blocks pain signals similar to morphine.
Amnesia – An anesthesia needs something that would make the patient unconscious and, therefore, not remember anything about the procedure. Anesthesiologists use a drug called propofol. You can be out for an hour or a day and barely know the difference.
Muscle relaxant – This is added to the mix so that the patient would not react even if there’s an intense pain stimulus. It blocks the nerve impulses to the muscles.
When you’re given anesthesia, especially general anesthesia, your body is more in a coma than asleep. Surgeons and anesthesiologists devise a treatment plan for the patient depending on the requirement of the surgery. Some anesthesia will depress excitatory neurons, while some will enhance inhibitory neurons.
Excitatory neurons are the chemical messengers that fire neurons to act, and this could be manifested through involuntary movements or reactions to pain like flinching or twitching. Moreover, the body must be fully relaxed to prevent sudden movements that could jeopardize the operation. Anesthesia suppresses these neurotransmitters.
On the other hand, inhibitory neurons are the more diverse neurotransmitter of the brain and are also fewer. They tell the neurons not to fire or, in most cases, stop people in ordinary situations from doing ridiculous and embarrassing things. This part of the brain tells you to hold back and not give in.
In anesthesia, inhibitory neurons make it harder for excitatory neurons to generate signals. This is crucial because, typically, neurons would send signals in your brain that you’re in pain during surgery. If those neurons aren’t firing, your brain doesn’t know your body is being sliced open.
Without anesthesia, many critical surgeries wouldn’t be possible. Even if you have the most skilled surgeon, surgery won’t move forward if your body is not conducive to a complex procedure.
Anesthesia and a successful surgical operation can save lives. Although there are known risks to them, the benefits far outweigh those risks, and many people would be willing to go under if it meant improving the quality of their lives.