Types Of Anaesthetic

Dr Paul Goonan - Types of Anaesthesia

There are four main types of anaesthesia: General Anaesthesia, Regional Anaesthesia, Local Anaesthesia, and Sedation. Your anaesthetist will determine the most appropriate type of anaesthesia based on a number of factors. These include the type of surgery or procedure you will be having, your state of health (including age, medical history, allergies, smoker/non-smoker, etc), and your past experience with anaesthesia.

General Anaesthesia:

Involves your anaesthetist administering anaesthetic drugs and gases, to place you in a state of controlled unconsciousness. This is so that you feel nothing during the operation and will remember nothing about the operation afterwards. During the course of general anaesthesia, your major bodily functions (such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure) are constantly and carefully monitored by your anaesthetist. When surgery has been completed, you will be transferred to recovery, where your vital signs will continue to be monitored.

Regional Anaesthesia:

A nerve block is given to numb the area of the body where the surgeon is operating. The regional block will take away the sensation of pain. Some examples of regional anaesthesia are limb blocks, epidurals and spinals which can be used for operations on lower parts of the body such as Caesarean Sections. Some patients may be given a regional anaesthetic as well as a general anaesthetic in order to control post-operative pain.

Local Anaesthesia:

Local anaesthetic is injected at the site of surgery causing the area to be numb. You are awake but will feel no pain.


Sedation is when you are given small amounts of anaesthetic drugs or medication. Patients will feel drowsy and relaxed and may even go to sleep. It makes you physically and mentally relaxed during an investigation or procedure which may be unpleasant or painful (such as an endoscopy) but where your co-operation is needed. You may remember little or nothing about the procedure. Sedation may be used while performing regional or local anaesthesia.

Please click here to access additional information and resources about anaesthesia.

Risks of General Anaesthesia

Patient safety has always been a priority for Anaesthetist's and in recent years there have been many advances in Anaesthesia which will continue to lessen the rates of risk and complications. It is important to remember that modern anaesthesia is very safe and Australia has some of the highest standards of practice in the world. However although safety is always a priority, complications do happen - all be it, very rarely. Some of the complications that may occur are listed below.

Common and Very Common Complications 

(may occur in 1 in 100 to 1 in 10 patients receiving an anaesthetic)

Uncommon Side Complications

(may occur in 1 in 1000 patients receiving an anaesthetic)

Rare to Very Rare Complications 

(may occur in 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100,000 patients receiving an anaesthetic)