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 General Anesthesia


General anesthesia acts primarily on the brain and central nervous system. It is administered via the patient's circulatory system by a combination of gases you breathe in, and injected drugs. After the initial injection, anesthesia is maintained with inhaled gas anesthetics and additional drugs through the IV. Often, but not always, your anesthesiologist may insert a breathing tube or similar device to assist your breathing during your surgery.  

General anesthesia makes you completely unaware of your surroundings and anything painful.  Your anesthesiologist is there continuously, taking in all the monitors to ensure you are getting enough of each anesthetic and not too much.  

It is very rare to recall anything at all during your surgery - if patients are asked carefully after anesthesia, about 1 in 1000 patients recalls anything, and that is usually a sound in the room. To be aware of anything more than sound is even more rare, although it makes for good television and movie drama.  For more information on this important topic, see this brochure and video on patient awareness on the American Society of Anesthesiology website.  (The brochure is also available in Spanish.)