Anaesthesia: Types and Differences


Anesthesia is the desensitization of the organism induced through the use of drugs and can affect the whole organism or a part of it. There are different types of anesthesia, each with specific characteristics and use according to the procedures adopted and the result you want to achieve.

What is Anaesthesia

The term anaesthesia means ‘loss of sensitivity’: through this process, the body or a part of it is rendered insensitive to the surgical stimulus. It is a discipline designed to:

  • Allowing the patient to undergo surgery without pain
  • Guaranteeing the surgeon optimal conditions even in the most complex operations

Sedation is a pharmacologically induced, temporary, and reversible state in which pain sensations are abolished. In the case of general anesthesia, an ‘artificial’ coma, known as narcosis, is also induced.

Types of Anaesthesia

The choice of anesthesia depends primarily on two factors: the type of surgery and the patient’s medical history. This ensures the best conditions for the surgical procedure and guarantees the patient the most appropriate and safest type of anesthesia.

For this reason, a pre-operative anesthesiological examination must always precede the surgical procedure and the choice of anesthesia. Typically, anesthesia is categorized as either general or loco-regional, but there are several types. Let’s explore them.

General Anaesthesia

General anesthesia involves a temporary and completely reversible blockade of the central nervous system’s functioning. It leads to the suppression of voluntary muscle activity and eventually reflex muscle activity. Under general anesthesia, a patient experiences decreased muscle tone and reduced breathing, loses consciousness, and therefore feels no pain.

Local Anaesthesia

Local anesthesia involves injecting an anesthetic drug into a specific area of the body, eliminating the sensation of pain in that defined region. This type of anesthesia is used for minor procedures, such as the removal of nevi or lipomas, and can also be administered in the operating room.

Plexic Anaesthesia

Plexic anesthesia is a type of local anesthesia that reversibly deactivates specific nerve structures. It is commonly used for operations on the upper or lower limbs, allowing patients to undergo surgery with spontaneous breathing and without the need for general anesthesia.

Spinal Anaesthesia

Spinal anesthesia is used for operations on the lower abdomen and lower limbs, particularly when general anesthesia is not feasible or when it is preferable to avoid putting the patient completely to sleep, such as in cases of reduced respiratory capacity. The procedure involves minimal discomfort, similar to that of a blood draw.


Sedation involves placing an individual in a drowsy, mentally and physically relaxed state. It is typically indicated for medical or surgical procedures that may be uncomfortable or mildly painful, such as endoscopy.

Each patient is unique and requires a thorough evaluation to tailor the sedation technique and manage expectations effectively.
In some cases, low doses of hypnotic medication are sufficient to alleviate anxiety and facilitate the surgical procedure.