There are four common types of anesthesia used in outpatient surgery:

  1. Local anesthesia
  2. Regional anesthesia
  3. IV sedation or Twilight anesthesia
  4. General anesthesia

What Is Local Anesthesia?

Doctors use local anesthetics to block pain in a part of the body that they are operating on. It is commonly used for removal of small skin growths or skin cancer, stitching cuts and non-invasive cosmetic procedures.

What Is Regional Anesthesia?

Regional anesthesia blocks pain in areas of the body being operated on just like local anesthesia, except it is on larger parts of the body. It is normally given through an injection or a catheter, often in the spine. Regional anesthesia is used for abdominal and orthopedic surgeries, during childbirth or C-section birth.

What Is Twilight Anesthesia (IV Sedation)?

IV sedation makes patient feel relaxed and sleepy. It is used for minimally invasive procedures or surgery and is used for colonoscopies, endoscopies and many cosmetic procedures. There are several levels of sedation. Some people can talk but feel no pain. Others are deep sleep and remember nothing. Sometimes, IV sedation is combined with local anesthetic.

What Is General Anesthesia?

General anesthesia affects the whole body, making the patient unconscious and unable to move and is used for invasive surgeries but is generally very safe.

How is anesthesia administered?

Once patient is checked in, RN and anesthesiologist will prepare them in preoperative area, place the IV and administer antibiotics or other medications.
Patient is then taken to the operating room.

Anesthesia monitors are placed at this time with a heart monitors on the chest, blood pressure cuff on the arm and a rubber clip on the finger to monitor oxygen levels.

The anesthesiologist sedates the patient. Patient may be given general anesthesia, local anesthesia, regional anesthesia, or spinal or epidural anesthesia.
Patient is positioned on his or her side, stomach, or back.

During surgery, anesthesia closely monitors the patient to make sure they are safe and comfortable, administering medication to provide anesthesia and control the heart rate and blood pressure.

Commonly used medications include: Midazolam (Versed), Fentanyl, Morphine, Propofol (Diprivan).

Once surgery is done, the anesthesia and nursing team bring patient to the recovery room. Recovery can take from 1 hour which is most common to several hours.
Ideally, patient wakes up with little discomfort. The recovery nurse monitors recovery. An anesthesiologist is also available to assist in the recovery room.

Patient is released when they have stable vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, temperature, pain level) and have emptied their bladder and start tolerating food/drink.

A responsible adult must be present at the time of discharge to assist the patient in going home. An adult should be with patient at all times for the first 24 hours to provide/call for help if necessary.

Before going home, patient and the responsible adult will receive postoperative instructions.

If patient is under 18, a parent or other responsible adult must accompany them and be available at all times.

Outpatient surgery is very safe, with a low frequency of complications. Some risks are related to the surgery, other to the anesthesia. The most frequent complications include nausea, sore throat and discomfort at the surgical site.