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Anaesthetics

Our anaesthetic team works closely with our critical care unit to provide pain relief to patients both before and after surgery.

Anaesthesia is used to make a patient unable to feel pain and works by blocking pain signals to the brain. There are several types of anaesthesia:

  • Local anaesthetic - used for minor procedures and tests to numb the nerves in the area where the procedure is taking place. You will be conscious during the procedure but you do not feel any pain.
  • Regional anaesthetic - used for larger or deeper operations where the nerves are harder to reach. Local anaesthetic is injected near the nerves in order to numb a larger area, but you remain conscious
  • Epidural anaesthetic - a regional anaesthetic used to numb the lower half of your body, which is often used for childbirth
  • Spinal anaesthesia - a regional anaesthetic that is used to numb your spinal nerves so that surgery can be carried out in this area
  • General anaesthetic - used for bigger operations when you need to be unconscious. The anaesthetic stops your brain recognising any signals from your nerves so you cannot feel anything 
  • Sedation - for painful or unpleasant procedures that are otherwise minor. Sedation makes you feel sleepy and relaxes you both physically and mentally

You may be given your anaesthetic in one of the following forms, depending on which type you are having:

  • ointment, spray, or drops that are rubbed onto your skin
  • an injection into a vein
  • a gas that you breathe in

Before your procedure your anaesthetist will discuss the most appropriate anaesthetic methods with you and will explain any risks or side effects. They will make sure that you are safe throughout your surgery and that you wake up comfortably afterwards. They may also help with any additional pain relief required after your procedure.