Anaesthesia is a type of drug treatment used to prevent patients feeling pain when they have a medical procedure, such as an operation.

Local anaesthesia

Local anaesthesia blocks pain in a very specific part of the body. Patients are given a local anaesthetic when they require a fairly minor procedure or they do not need to be heavily sedated. The small, localised area affected by the local anaesthetic will feel numb and patients should not feel any pain in that area during the procedure. It can take some time for the feeling of numbness to wear off.

Read more about local anaesthesia on the NHS Choices Website

Regional anaesthesia

Regional anaesthesia uses a local anaesthetic to block pain in a large part of the body, such as an entire arm or leg. An epidural, sometimes given to a woman for pain relief during childbirth, is a type of regional anaesthesia.

Read more about epidurals on the NHS Choices website

General anaesthesia

General anaesthesia blocks pain in the entire body by putting a patient into a state of unconsciousness. Patients are usually given a general anaesthetic when they are having a long operation, or one that would be particularly painful otherwise. Patients are very closely monitored while they are under a general anaesthetic.

Read more about General Anaesthesia on the NHS Choices website

Children's anaesthesia

You can find out more about this on the Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists website.

Obstetric anaesthesia

You can read more about pain relief during labour in our Maternity pages.

More detailed information for parents is available from the Obstetric Anaesthetists' Association