General anesthesia

Anesthesia is a way to control pain using anesthetic medication. General anesthesia, which can be injected into a vein or inhaled, affects the entire body and makes the person unconscious.

A person under general anesthesia is completely unaware of what is going on and does not feel pain during the surgery or procedure. Anesthesia interrupts the pain signals between a person's nerve endings and the brain. The health professional administering the anesthesia (anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist) monitors the person's condition throughout the procedure.

Possible complications from anesthesia include allergic reactions, nausea and/or vomiting, and infections.

Last Updated: January 28, 2010

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology

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