What is General Anesthesia?
A general anesthetic involves the loss of consciousness and loss of awareness and sensations during the surgical period. The drugs used to provide anesthesia are very potent and their management can be very complex. The achievement of the desired effect while avoiding or minimizing side effects requires continued vigilance, monitoring and adjustments by the anesthesiologist. General anesthesia can be split into phases known as induction (beginning), maintenance (during), and emergence (end).
The “induction” of anesthesia most commonly involves the injection of IV medications that quickly puts the patient into the unconscious state. Another less commonly used option for the induction of sleep involves breathing anesthesia gases via a mask (although common in young children).
The “maintenance” of anesthesia during the surgical period involves a combination of IV medications and certain anesthetic gases (inhalation agents) to keep the patient “asleep". During this time, the anesthesiologist is closely monitoring your anesthetic depth and vital signs.