There are two types of anaesthesia:

The choice of full or regional anaesthesia is usually determined by your health condition and the type of procedure you will undergo. You will sometimes have a choice between the two. In that case, the anaesthetist will discuss this with you. Both techniques are sometimes used simultaneously.

During the procedure, the anaesthetist will observe you closely. They will adjust the treatment so that you can go through the procedure safely.

General anaesthesia

This method makes you unconscious and insensitive to pain.

How is general anaesthesia applied?

Usually with drugs, which is injected through a vein and has an immediate effect on the brain. The sleeping medicine is sometimes administered through the mask, which is applied to the face. This method of inducing sleep is preferred for small children.

These powerful and reliable drugs put you into an artificial sleep that is very different from natural sleep. A mask with oxygen is held over your face to increase the oxygen level in your blood.

These drugs have a significant impact on the respiratory, cardiac and circulatory systems. Therefore, the anaesthetist intervenes in monitoring and adjusting the functioning of all vital organs. For this purpose, they have adapted medical equipment and additional medicines. Often, they will insert a tube into the windpipe and use a respirator so that the oxygen supply is not compromised.

Additional medicines include, for example, powerful painkillers, muscle relaxants and medicines that regulate blood pressure. In case of excessive fluid and blood loss, infusion solutions or blood products are administered. At the end of the procedure, the anaesthetist will end the anaesthesia. If necessary, drugs that accelerate the end of the effects of these substances are administered.

After the procedure, you will be cared for in the recovery room. This is where you will wake up again. Your circulatory and respiratory systems are further monitored. In the case of more serious procedures and depending on your health condition, you may be admitted to the intensive care unit before or after the operation. After anaesthesia, the anaesthetist also deals with pain management.


Sedation is a much lighter ‘general anaesthesia’. Sedation, like any anaesthetic, can also suppress breathing and the protective reflexes of your lungs (swallowing, coughing).

The safety conditions and preparation for sedation are basically the same as for general anaesthesia. Sedation will be used for unpleasant or painful medical examination techniques (such as endoscopies, e.g. coloscopy or colonoscopy).

Regional anaesthesia techniques

Pain is transmitted to the brain via the nerves. When this conduction is switched off, part of the body is desensitised or put under anaesthesia. Such anaesthesia can be achieved by injecting certain drugs (‘local anaesthetics’) around the nerves. Depending on the region of the body and the access route, this technique is called differently.

Spinal anaesthesia

This is the anaesthesia where the lower half of the body is numbed. With a fine needle, the anaesthetist will insert the needle between the vertebrae at lumbar level and inject an anaesthetic into the fluid around the spinal cord. The puncture passes through the capsule surrounding the spinal cord.

This prick does not usually hurt more than the prick you get when blood is drawn and usually takes place in a sitting position. In addition to anaesthesia, this injection also causes paralysis of the legs, which lasts as long as the anaesthesia takes effect. It is a quick, simple technique for short interventions under the navel.

Epidural anaesthesia

This is also done via an injection in the back, but the anaesthetic is injected just outside the spinal cord sac. This means that it takes a little longer (about 15 minutes) for the anaesthetic to take full effect. The great advantage of epidural anaesthesia is that at the same time a catheter (a very thin tube) can be inserted into the area around the spinal cord. Through this catheter, the patient can be given pain relief for up to a few days after the operation.

Regional anaesthesia

Regional anaesthesia can be used as the sole anaesthetic technique for pain-free surgery, or in conjunction with another anaesthetic technique (general anaesthesia or epidural) to provide pain relief long after the operation.

With regional anaesthesia, only part of the body is numbed. This is done by injecting anaesthetic around the nerve(s) leading to the area to be operated on. In order to inject the anaesthetic correctly around the nerve, the anaesthetist uses an ultrasound machine while inserting the needle. With this device, he sees the nerves involved, the position of the needle, and the correct injection of the anaesthetic.

A nerve stimulator is often used as an additional safety measure. This is a small device that is connected to the needle and conducts very small electric pulses through the needle. If the needle tip comes close to the nerve, the patient may feel small, painless muscle jerks. This additionally confirms the correct position of the needle. With this technique, a catheter can also be placed in the vicinity of the nerve so that further pain relief can be provided in the first few days after the operation.

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