Brad Stahlheber

Brad Stahlheber on Differences Between General and Regional Anesthesia

in Opinion

The concept of using some form of numbing medicine during surgical endeavors has been around for a long time. After all, people realized that medical interventions seldom go without major pain that adversely affects the patient. Thus, various forms of anesthesia have been used for almost as long as surgery has been practiced. In reality, however, the vast majority of the non-medically involved population knows very little about the different forms of anesthesia, their benefits, shortcomings, and more. So, what exactly are some of the most important types of anesthesia and how do they affect the patient?

General Anesthesia

In most cases, people will at least be familiar with the concept of general anesthesia. For those that may not be, this is what doctors use to cause a reversible loss of consciousness during a procedure. In other terms, it is used to put the patient to sleep and be able to operate on them without any interruptions. So, essentially, general anesthesia is just another form of a short-term, medically induced coma.

Some of the most popular consequences of providing a patient with this form of anesthesia is a complete elimination of any pain. Additionally, people will not remember the events that took place while they were unconscious. In translation, this is what allows them to undergo long procedures and simply sleep off the entire endeavor.

– Side Effects

According to an anesthesiologist from the St. John Medical Center, Brad Stahlheber, patients generally only care about the side-effects. Meaning, they prioritize learning about everything that may go wrong before inquiring about the history of general anesthesia. Luckily, the side effects are not concerning enough to make one even question the trade-off related to using general anesthesia. The following list provides a solid overview of everything that could take place:

  • Memory loss and some confusion;
  • Bruising from the IV;
  • Dizziness;
  • A sore throat in cases of someone using a breathing tube;
  • Potential nausea that causes vomiting;

In return, however, the patient will be given an opportunity to sleep through their medical procedure. Thus, any pain or discomfort related to the intervention will practically be non-existent.

Regional Anesthesia

Unlike the previous alternative, regional anesthesia does not affect someone’s body as much. Instead of putting them in a short-term coma, it will simply numb the area of their body that needs to be operated on. The level of numbness, however, can go all the way up to someone basically having no feeling of certain body parts whatsoever.

There are three common types of regional anesthesia that doctors like Brad Stahlheber use. These include spinal anesthesia, epidural anesthesia, and nerve blocks. Doctors select which one to use based on the patient’s condition, medical history, area affected, and much more.

– Side Effects

Even though regional anesthesia is nowhere near as widespread as general anesthesia, it can lead to certain side-effects. Some examples include an unexpected drop in blood pressure, bruising, nerve damage, headaches, and so on. It is important to note, however, that most doctors advise their patients to use regional anesthesia when possible.

Who can administer any type of anesthesia?

In the vast majority of the cases, only certified anesthesiologists are authorized to give patients anesthesia. This is because they have the necessary expertise that allows them to provide the necessary dosage properly. A common misconception, however, is that people believe an anesthesiologists’ job only relate to the initial anesthesia. On the contrary, these doctors will remain present throughout the entire duration of the procedure. Their role will include everything from constant monitoring of the patient’s vitals to adjusting the dosage of their drugs.

Thus, it is quite reasonable to expect anesthesiologists to go through rigorous education. Doing so makes them qualified to do a very sensitive job that puts people’s lives at risk. Meaning, any failure to properly account for the external factors could lead to someone’s untimely death. Luckily, the requirements to become an anesthesiologist are about as strict as it gets. Therefore, there is no way for one to achieve such a notable status until going through extensive training and preparation.

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