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What Is Anesthesia and Why Is It Important?

Dr Brian Klagges

Dr. Brian Klagges is an experienced anesthesiologist who has spent over fifteen years both training as an anesthesiologist and providing medical services throughout Massachusetts. Currently, he serves as a physician and anesthesiologist at the Elliot Hospital. There, Brian Klagges, MD, specializes in ensuring patients remain sedated and pain-free throughout a diverse set of medical procedures.

While the aim of surgeries is to relieve a patient of a medical condition, without anesthesia many surgeries would be incredibly traumatic. In fact, the development of effective anesthetics made many modern surgical advances possible, allowing surgeons to refine operations such as c-sections and develop organ transplantation.

While there is a lot still unknown about why anesthetics are effective, many induce unconsciousness to dull pain. In local anesthetics, this is achieved by disrupting nerves’ capacity to send signals from a specific location on the body. Compounds bind to receptors on nerves and block any signal.
General anesthetics are split into two broad categories - inhalation and intravenous. Inhalation anesthetics such as nitrous oxide or sevoflurane work to disrupt signals across the nervous system. They are supplemented by intravenous anesthetics which are often a combination of pain-relieving compounds (frequently opioids) and sedatives to induce unconsciousness. Combined, inhalation and intravenous anesthetics disrupt the transmission of signals to, from, and within the brain. This effectively prevents patients from feeling pain or creating memories of their surgeries.

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