If you are faced with the possibility of needing surgery or a procedure, chances are you will receive some type of anesthesia care. Decisions regarding your anesthesia are tailored specifically for you based on your individual needs and best interests.

A member of your anesthesia team will be with you throughout your procedure and is personally responsible for your comfort and well-being. The type of anesthesia you receive depends on your general health and the type of surgical procedure, as well as your preferences whenever possible. Based on information gathered from your records and pre-anesthesia visit, potential choices for your anesthetic care will be discussed with you.

The type and amount of anesthesia given to you will be specifically tailored to your needs and will depend on various factors, including:

  • the type of surgery
  • the location of the surgery
  • how long the surgery may take
  • your current and previous medical condition
  • allergies you may have
  • previous reactions to anesthesia (in you or family members)
  • medications you are taking
  • your age, height, and weight


Anesthesia is provided in three main categories: local, regional, and general.

With local anesthesia, an anesthetic drug (which can be given as a shot, spray, or ointment) numbs only a small, specific area of the body. With local anesthesia, a person is awake or sedated, depending on what is needed. Local anesthesia lasts for a short period of time and is often used for minor outpatient procedures (when patients come in for surgery and can go home that same day).

With regional anesthesia, an anesthetic drug is injected near a cluster of nerves, numbing a larger area of the body (such as below the waist, like epidurals given to women in labor). Regional anesthesia is generally used to make a person more comfortable during and after the surgical procedure. Regional and general anesthesia are often combined.

With general anesthesia, the goal is to make and keep a person completely unconscious (or “asleep”) during the operation, with no awareness or memory of the surgery. General anesthesia can be given through an IV (which requires sticking a needle into a vein, usually in the arm) or by inhaling gases or vapors by breathing into a mask or tube.

Your anesthesiologist will be with you before, during, and after your procedure to monitor the anesthetic and your care.