If you are due to have surgery, you will probably be placed under anesthesia. Anesthesia can be done in different ways and the choice depends on your condition, the operation you are going to have, and your personal preferences. What are the characteristics of the different types of anesthesia?

Main types of anesthesia

General (total) anesthesia

This is the most well-known form of anesthesia. The anesthetist administers sleeping pills, pain relievers, and possibly muscle relaxants through an infusion. These substances act on the brain: they make you lose consciousness and make you insensitive to pain. During the operation, the anesthesiologist continuously monitors the depth of your sleep, breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, etc., using monitoring devices.

In certain cases, anesthesia by inhalation (via a mask) is preferred: this is often the case for children because it is less unpleasant than an injection.

Local anesthesia

Local anesthesia makes a small area of ​​the body painless. The anesthetist injects an anesthetic where it is needed under the skin, for example, if they want to remove a wart or extract a tooth.

Locoregional anesthesia

This involves lulling the nerves that lead to the area to be operated on. Epidural anesthesia is one example. The patient remains conscious during the procedure, without feeling pain. He or she can, however, if he wishes, be administered a sedative.


Sedation is used for minor procedures and tests, such as endoscopy (eg colonoscopy). A small infusion needle is placed in a vein in the hand or arm, through which the medicine is given. This anesthesia puts you to sleep, but a less deep sleep than with general anesthesia. Rather, sedation is intended to induce a form of relaxation during the operation.

Side effects

Despite the high degree of safety ensured by all precautions taken during anesthesia, there is a small risk of side effects or complications in all forms of anesthesia.

One in a hundred people may experience nausea and vomiting, sore throat, dizziness and blurred vision, tremors, headaches, itching, hypersensitivity to the products used…. However, many of these side effects can be avoided or treated with medication.