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Reviewed 10/9/2023

Anesthesia: True or false?

Anesthesia, or anesthetics, blocks all feeling and can help you get through medical procedures without pain—and, often, without awareness.

While "going under" may be common, how much do you know about anesthesia?

True or false: Ether was the first anesthetic successfully used to put people under for surgery.

True. In 1846, a dentist demonstrated how ether fumes could be used to knock people out during surgery.

True or false: General anesthetics allow you to become unconscious and can only be delivered by gas.

False. General anesthesia does knock you out so that you have no awareness or sensations during surgery. But these drugs can be injected into your bloodstream or inhaled as a gas.

True or false: Getting anesthesia always means becoming unconscious.

False. Some anesthetics can be given with or without sedation, so you can stay awake. A local anesthetic numbs only a small part of your body, such as a tooth or a finger. A regional anesthetic helps numb larger areas and is delivered through a cluster of nerves.

True or false. General anesthetics that are inhaled wear off faster than those that are injected into veins.

False. Inhaled anesthetics take longer to wear off than those given through the veins. Intravenous anesthetics disappear from the bloodstream quickly, allowing patients to go home sooner after surgery.

True or false: Anesthesiologists are medical doctors.

True. Anesthesiologists have a medical degree. They also have to complete a four-year residency in anesthesiology.

Are you scheduled for a medical procedure or surgery? Ask your doctor what kind of anesthesia you can expect to have.

What else to know about surgery

All about anesthesia


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