A wide variety of medicines are used to provide anesthesia. Their effects can be complex. And they can interact with other medicines to cause different effects than when they are used alone. Anyone receiving anesthesia-even procedural sedation-must be monitored continuously to protect and maintain vital body functions. The complex task of managing the delivery of anesthesia medicines as well as monitoring your vital functions is done by anesthesia specialists.
Medicines used for anesthesia help you relax, help relieve pain, induce sleepiness or forgetfulness, or make you unconscious. Anesthesia medicines include:
- Local anesthetics, such as bupivacaine or lidocaine, that are injected directly into the body area involved in the surgery.
- Intravenous (IV) anesthetics, such as fentanyl, propofol, or sodium thiopental, that are given through a vein.
- Inhalation anesthetics, such as isoflurane and nitrous oxide, that you breathe through a mask.
Other medicines that are often used during anesthesia include:
- Muscle relaxants, which block transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles. They are used during anesthesia to temporarily relax muscle tone as needed.
- Reversal agents, which are given to counteract or reverse the effects of other medicines such as muscle relaxants or sedatives given during anesthesia. Reversal agents may be used to reduce the time it takes to recover from anesthesia.