The purpose of anaesthesia is to ensure a pain-free surgical procedure, regardless of how the patient is exposed to it. Doctors use several different types of anaesthesia, depending on the nature and complexity of the operation. For example, general anaesthesia is used for major operations, such as an open heart surgery; the anaesthesia is supposed to induce complete unconsciousness in these cases. On the contrary, localised anaesthesia can be used to numb a limited area; this is suitable for minor procedures like getting stitches. The patient remains awake and alert, but does not suffer pain because the part of the body being treated is anaesthetised.
Whether a doctor administers anaesthesia in the form of a gas or injectable, risks exist either way. The medic in charge of anaesthetising the patient is supposed to be highly skilled and trained for the task. Minor discrepancies (overdose or under-dosage) can cause severe consequences, which is why many personal injury lawsuits related to medical practice are about anaesthetic errors during surgery.
How does gas anaesthesia work?
Gas anaesthesia enters the body through inhalation. N2O (nitrous oxide), also known as the laughing gas, is the most commonly used anaesthetic gas. N2O is non-volatile, which means it can be administered in its gaseous state at room temperature. Other volatile gases used to function as anaesthesia include halothane, isoflurane, and desflurane, which have to be vaporised because they are liquid at room temperature. Gas anaesthesia provides mild and temporary sedation; hence, the patient remains relatively aware of the procedure and gains full consciousness shortly.
How does injected anaesthesia work?
This kind of anaesthesia is administered in liquid form via syringe; the dose is calculated with reference to the patient’s body mass and overall health condition. General injected anaesthesia helps immerse the patient into a deep sleep, but they usually awaken and recover within 24 hours. The anaesthetic agent is injected into a vein and takes effect within 10-15 minutes. The patient does not experience any pain, nor remembers anything about the procedure.
Which method of administration is better?
It is hard to say whether gas anaesthesia is the superior methodology or vice versa. Most of the time, the feasibility of either depends upon the particulars of the operation and the medical history of the patient. It can also be a matter of preference for the doctor and/or patient involved. For example, the patient may want to remain mindful during the operation, and the doctor may agree that it is safe. On the other hand, putting the patient to sleep is considered suitable and even necessary for prolonged and highly invasive procedures. Keeping the patient awake under the circumstances could be traumatic for them and distracting for the surgeon.
Many doctors are only comfortable with injected anaesthesia because they have years of experience using it; others favour gaseous anaesthesia because they consider it simpler and safer. Some health conditions automatically rule out the use of one the methods; for instance, if deep sedation comes with the risk of blocking the patient’s airway, the doctor will opt for gaseous administration with constant monitoring.
Gas anaesthesia is typically the better option for brief and less invasive operations. If the medical procedure is complicated and likely to require pain-management medication post operation, general injected anaesthesia would be the better choice. Injection is normally preferred over gas where only a small area needs to be numbed, i.e. localised anaesthesia.
John Adams is a paralegal who writes about widespread legal and social issues. He helps readers overcome challenges and solve many personal problems the smart way, rather than the hard way. He aims to reach out to individuals who are unaware of their legal rights, and make the world a better place.
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