What is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia is provided to children and adults so that they will not feel any discomfort during an operation or diagnostic procedure. The most common type of anesthesia is called "general anesthesia," which provides a lack of awareness, unconsciousness and varying degrees of muscle relaxation while blocking discomfort or pain perception. In addition to general anesthesia, other techniques that may be used include "regional anesthesia"(major nerve blocks, as in spinal or epidural anesthesia) and sedation. In children, regional anesthetic techniques are often used to help manage pain after surgery or painful procedures. Varying levels of sedation short of general anesthesia may be required for procedures that are not painful, such as a MRI or CT, or for painful procedures of relatively brief duration such as a lumbar puncture, bone marrow sampling or IV insertion.