This is the VOA Special English
Anesthesia is used during
operations and other medical procedures to block pain signals from traveling
through the nervous system. The kind of
anesthesia that patients receive depends on their condition and the kind of
procedure they need.
anesthesia is used to make a small area of the body lose feeling. Usually, local anesthesia is for minor
procedures, like fixing a tooth or closing a wound. The person remains fully awake.
anesthesia is used to block pain in a large area of the body. For example, when a woman is giving birth,
she might request an epidural anesthesia.
It is injected into the fluid in the spine. It acts on the lower half of the body.
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General anesthesia makes a
person fall asleep. This is known as
being "put under." The drugs
are injected into the blood or breathed as gas.
General anesthesia also blocks memory.
are not supposed to remember an operation when they wake up. In rare cases, they do. The Mayo Clinic says patients may have a
sense of their surroundings during about one-fifth of one percent of all
operations. It says they generally do
not feel pain, but may wish to talk to a mental health provider if the memories
An anesthesiologist is a doctor
specially trained to give anesthesia.
During an operation, the anesthesiologist will observe the patient's
heart rate, blood pressure and amount of oxygen in the blood. A breathing tube may be put into the person's
windpipe. The tube is connected to a
are, of course, risks to anesthesia.
People can have different reactions to the drugs. Mistakes can happen. But medical experts say the safety of anesthesia
has greatly improved.
Mayo Clinic says not too long ago, one in ten thousand cases resulted in
death. Now, it says, the number is one
in two hundred fifty thousand.
experts say everyone's experience with anesthesia is different. To reduce the risks, the Mayo Clinic says
open communication is important among the patient and the doctors before an
can expect questions like: What is your current health? What medications do you take? Do you smoke or drink alcohol? Do you know if you have any allergies to
foods or medicines? And what experiences
have you had in the past with anesthesia?
that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Jill Moss. Our reports are online at
voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Bob Doughty.