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Anaesthetics are drugs that can remove the sensation of pain, relax the muscles, calm fear and anxiety or induce a deep sleep. They can be used singly or in combination depending on the effects the specialist doctor or anaesthetist aims to achieve.
The anaesthetist examines you and decides on the most suitable type of anaesthetic for you.
Local anaesthetics numb the particular area of the body on which the surgery will be performed. They are used for short procedures that usually do not involve deep cuts. You stay awake but do not feel any pain or discomfort. Sometimes you may also be given sedation so that you feel drowsy.
Spinal anaesthetics (also referred to as epidural anaesthetics) are injections of drugs beneath the covering of the spinal cord. They numb the area of the body below the site of the injection. You remain awake but do not feel what is being done during the operation. They are often recommended for people who have breathing difficulties or other physical conditions that make them unsuitable for a general anaesthetic.
General anaesthetics not only block out feelings and sensations, but also induce a very deep ‘sleep’. Although surgery or other painful procedures are being performed you will not be aware of them.