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How can anesthesia help?

Anesthesia induces a temporary partial or total loss of sensation. In the hands of qualified professionals like Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, it is a safe and effective means of alleviating pain during a medical or surgical procedure. Millions of people in the United States safely undergo some form of medical or surgical treatment every year requiring anesthesia.

Anesthesia care is not confined to surgery alone. The process also refers to activities that take place both before and after an anesthetic is given.

Who administers anesthesia?

Anesthesia can be administered by either a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) or Anesthesiologist. CRNA’s are advanced practice nurses with specialized graduate level education in anesthesiology, and are responsible for administering more than 32 million anesthetics to patients in the United States each year. For nearly 150 years, nurse anesthetists have been administering anesthesia in all types of surgical cases, using all anesthetic techniques, and practicing in every setting in which anesthesia is administered.

To learn more about CRNA’s click on the links below:

To see CRNA’s in action, click one of the links below for video resources:

Will my nurse anesthetist (CRNA) stay with me throughout my surgery?

Your nurse anesthetist stays with you for the entire procedure, constantly monitoring every important function of your body and individually modifying your anesthetic to ensure your maximum safety and comfort.

There are several kinds of anesthesia:

  • The one chosen for you is based on factors such as your physical condition, the type of surgery you are having, and your reactions to medications.
  • There are three basic types of anesthesia:
    • General Anesthesia: Produces a loss of sensation throughout the entire body.
    • Regional Anesthesia: Produces a loss of sensation to a specific region of the body.
    • Local Anesthesia: Produces a loss of sensation to a small specific area of the body.

Why are you told to not eat or drink prior to anesthesia and surgery?
  • Not eating or drinking before a procedure, surgery, or anesthesia is known as "preoperative fasting".
  • The reason for "preoperative fasting" is to prevent "pulmonary aspiration" during the start, middle or end of anesthesia.  Pulmonary aspiration is defined as the entry of stomach contents into the lungs.  
  • Each institution has guidelines and rules for preoperative fasting, and you will have to consult with your provider as to when you need to stop eating and/or drinking before a procedure.
More Information:

To obtain more Anesthesia Patient Resources, visit the Patient Resource Center provided by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). This site will prepare you for: your anesthesia experience, discuss children and anesthesia, and describe how to avoid complications.

  • Click here to visit the AANA Patient Resource Center.

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