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Different Types of Anesthesia During Orthopedic Surgery

Orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical techniques to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, and congenital disorders.

During orthopedic surgery, anesthesia is used in order to numb the area or even make the patient unconscious. As you research and prepare for orthopedic surgery, you may learn about different types of anesthesia that surgeons use. Collaboration with your surgeon, as well as the specific type of procedure, will determine which type of anesthesia is best for your surgery. 


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There are four main types of anesthesia

  • Local Anesthesia – numbs one small area of the body. You stay awake and alert.
  • Regional Anesthesia – blocks pain in an area of the body, such an arm or leg. 
  • General Anesthesia – makes you unconscious.
  • IV/Monitored Sedation – also known as “monitored anesthesia care”. Medications are given, usually through an IV, to make the patient feel drowsy and relaxed.

If scheduled at Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center, please discuss your medical history. It may impact the sedatives (drugs that make you sleepy) and analgesics (drugs that provide pain relief) used for your surgery. 

Let us explore the different types of anesthesia used for orthopedic surgical procedures. 

What is Local Anesthesia? 

Local anesthesia is used for minor procedures. Doctors can use a medication such as lidocaine to numb a small area or may use a topical numbing cream. It is the choice for procedures such as stitches or for numbing an area before inserting an IV.

Local anesthesia can be combined with another type of sedation to achieve better pain control. Using it alone is not preferred for most orthopedic surgeries. 

What Is General Anesthesia?

General anesthesia is frequently used for major orthopedic surgeries. Most people think of general anesthesia if they refer to “going to sleep” for a procedure. 

General anesthesia combines sedatives and analgesics to produce a sleep state, so the patient is unconscious. The patient feels no pain, nor do they have any reflexes during the procedure. 

Surgeons administer general anesthesia through a combination of IV medication and inhaled gases. 

What is Regional Anesthesia?

Regional anesthesia can be used for orthopedic surgeries to numb a large part of the body. Included types of regional anesthesia are epidurals and spinal blocks. The patient remains awake, but they cannot feel the area numbed. 

The medication can be administered to the area by injection or through a small catheter. It is a safe procedure but may not be appropriate for more complex orthopedic surgeries. 

What is IV Sedation?

IV sedation is another type of pain control for procedures where the patient is relaxed enough, so they feel little pain. They may fall asleep as a result but do not lose consciousness. 

Surgeons choose IV sedation for minor surgeries where local injections are not enough, but general anesthesia is unnecessary. With IV sedation, different levels of sedation are possible depending on patient needs. 

There are different levels, so the patient may be still awake and talking at a mild level. If under moderate sedation, the patient may fall asleep but can wake easily. Deep sedation is similar to general anesthesia, so the patient is asleep, but they can breathe independently. 

Types of Anesthesia at outpatient surgery center raleigh

About Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center

Have you been scheduled for surgery at our outpatient surgery center in Raleigh? If so, you are in safe hands!

Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center is both the largest and most modern ambulatory surgery facility in Eastern North Carolina to specialize exclusively in orthopaedics. Our patients receive outstanding patient satisfaction, superior clinical outcomes and reduced costs. Your care will at all times be physician-directed and patient-focused.

You are not only a patient to us, you are an individual with your own exceptional circumstances, requirements, and needs. Our doctors, physical therapists, and other staff are devoted to bringing this standpoint to patient care, and work every day to fulfill our promise of bringing you back to the lifestyle and activities that you love. For these reasons, you can feel confident about your upcoming surgery at Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center.


Questions? Call Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center at 919-719-3070 for more information.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.