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Anesthesia is a way to control pain using anesthetic medicine. Anesthetics are used to numb a specific area of the body (local and regional anesthesia) or to cause a person to sleep through a painful procedure such as surgery (general anesthesia).
The type of anesthesia used depends upon the procedure and the person's health, age, and preferences. Young children usually cannot remain still during surgery and need general anesthesia. People with certain health problems choose local or regional anesthesia when that is an option, because it may pose fewer risks than general anesthesia in some situations. Long or difficult surgeries may require general anesthesia.
A person choosing local or regional anesthesia needs to be able to lie still and remain calm during the surgery and will likely be given medicine to help with relaxation.
Last Revised: September 30, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine & John M. Freedman, MD, MD - Anesthesiology
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