How anaesthetics work
Anaesthetics induce unconsciousness by blocking sensations travelling through nerves in the brain. During this state, procedures can be carried out safely without the patient being aware or feeling any pain. The patient then regains consciousness when the anaesthetics are worn off.
How anaesthetics are given
A general anaesthetic can be given in the form of an injection into a vein or through a gas which is breathed in. Alternatively, local anaesthetics can be applied to specific parts of the body, such as spinal anaesthesia, epidural anaesthesia or using a ‘nerve block’ to numb a limb, thereby avoiding the need for general anaesthesia.