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Anesthesia

In the practice of medicine (especially surgery) and dentistry

anesthesia or anaesthesia (see spelling differences) is a temporary induced state with one or more of analgesia (relief from or prevention of pain), paralysis (muscle relaxation), amnesia (loss of memory), and unconsciousness. A patient under the effects of anesthetic drugs is referred to as being anesthetized.

Anesthesia enables the painless performance of medical procedures that would cause severe or intolerable pain to an unanesthetized patient. Three broad categories of anaesthesia exist:

  • General anesthesia suppresses central nervous system activity and results in unconsciousness and total lack of sensation.
  • Sedation suppresses the central nervous system to a lesser degree, inhibiting both anxiety and creation of long-term memories without resulting in unconsciousness.
  • Regional anesthesia and local anesthesia, which block transmission of nerve impulses between a targeted part of the body and the central nervous system, causing loss of sensation in the targeted body part. A patient under regional or local anesthesia remains conscious.