SEP 28, 2017 03:33 PM PDT

How Does Anesthesia End Pain?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
3 8 806

If you've ever had some procedure done at the doctor's office (major or minor) you've probably been exposed to anesthesia.

For minor procedures like tooth filling or a skin biopsy, the physician likely administered a local anesthetic that block specific nerves from transmitting pain information to the brain. However, for any major surgery that are complex and require deep cuts into the body, surgeons work with general anesthesiologists to make sure the patient is well unconscious.

General anesthesia is often administered through inhalation of gaseous anesthetic agents. This includes nitrous oxide, and other forms of ether (isoflurane, sevoflurane, and desflurane). These gases act on the entire nervous system, dampening the brain's ability to perceive or remember pain during the procedure. However, like local anesthetics, the sensation of pain will likely return once the anesthesia wears off.

Researchers are still trying to understand exactly how anesthesia affects neurotransmitters in the brain. Furthermore, the high complexities involved with putting a patient under is why there's a dedicated team of doctors and nurses to support this process.

For now, many patients just glad to have the option of going under instead of being awake during an operation. I know I am!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 05, 2018
Videos
JUL 05, 2018
Can Food Be Prescribed?
Hippocrates, the father of medicine was famous for saying, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” and what he meant was that eating
JUL 13, 2018
Technology
JUL 13, 2018
Watch: HEXA Robot Takes Care of Plants
This spider-like robot will shift your succulent plants into sunlight or shade.
JUL 22, 2018
Videos
JUL 22, 2018
Goodbye to Louisiana
One-fourth of Louisiana’s coastline has already disappeared since just the 1930s. Every hour, Louisiana loses about a football field of land to the s
JUL 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 24, 2018
These Animals Experience Harsher Childbirths Than Humans
You might be quick to think that humans have it hard during childbirth, but compared to a few other species in the animal kingdom, humans actually have it
AUG 01, 2018
Videos
AUG 01, 2018
Goodbye to the Endangered Species Act?
The Endangered Species Act, which protects more than 2,000 plant, animal and insect species at risk of
AUG 13, 2018
Videos
AUG 13, 2018
Is Earth Running Out of Helium?
If current global demand continues, we can face a shortage of helium within the next 40 years. Helium is the second most common element after hydrogen
Loading Comments...