What you need to know about anesthesia

Anesthesia is a combination of medicines that block the feelings of pain and puts you to sleep during surgery.

You will receive other pain medicine to give you pain relief during and after surgery.

Before surgery you will meet an anesthesiologist and a registered nurse anesthetist who will work with the anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist will review your medical history and talk with you about anesthesia.

General anesthesia

General anesthesia puts you to sleep during surgery. It acts mainly on your brain and nervous system and affects your entire body.

You will receive medicine through an intravenous (IV) line or by inhaling it. A breathing tube is placed when your are asleep. It will help you breathe while you are under the anesthesia.

During general anesthesia you are unconscious.

Minor side effects such as sore throat, hoarseness, nausea and drowsiness are the most common. These side effects usually go away in one or two days.

Regional anesthesia

Regional anesthesia affects specific nerves which block sensation to a limited area of your body. It is usually given with light sedation, which provides comfort and relieves anxiety while the nerve blocks are placed.

You receive it by injection (shot). (Spinal and epidural are examples of this.)

Spinal anesthesia numbs the lower half of your body for about three to four hours. You receive an injection between the vertebrae.

Epidural anesthesia allows you to receive pain medicine after surgery. A thin plastic tube (catheter) is placed in your spine to allow for extra injections or medicines after surgery.

Minor side effects such as small headaches, itching or trouble urinating are the most common. These side effects usually go away a few days after surgery.

General anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia used for a hysterectomy. It is always used for laparoscopic procedures.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Preparing for Your Hysterectomy, gyn-ah-95582
Reviewed By: Allina Health Patient Education experts
First Published: 04/25/2013
Last Reviewed: 11/30/2015