General Anaesthetic

This page will provide you with information about general anaesthetic. For further details, please speak to your consultant.

What is general anaesthetic?

General anaesthetic is a type of painkiller that takes the form of a mixture of drugs designed to send a patient to sleep so they are unaware of any operation or procedure that is being performed on them.

It causes a loss of sensation so the individual is not aware of what is happening at the time and will still be unaware of what has happened when they wake up.

Are there any alternatives to general anaesthetic?

Local anaesthetic is another form of anaesthesia that may be appropriate. This is injected into the area where the surgery is to take place.

Althernatively, spinal, regional or epidural anaesthetic could be used. This is when the drugs are injected into major nerves or the spinal cord to ensure a loss of sensation is created in specific areas.

However, use of these anaesthetics mean the patient will be awake or specifically put under sedation for the operation.

How is general anaesthetic administered?

General anaesthetic is usually administered with an injection via a drip directly into a main vein. It takes effect within 30 seconds.

This can also be administered in the form of a gas inhaled with a face mask. Again this takes effect within 30 seconds.

The anaesthetists will constantly check vital signs to ensure patients under general anaesthetic are fully asleep and there is no chance of them waking up.

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.


General anaesthetic will wear off within 24 hours. During this time the individual’s co-ordination and mental capacity will be diminished.

Being healthy and in good physical shape can assist with recovery.


General anaesthetic is a common and effective method of sedation for individuals about to undergo an operation or procedure.



EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.