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A patient who receives general anesthesia is usually under the care of an anesthesiologist, a medical doctor who has completed three years of specialized training in anesthesia beyond medical school.

A nurse anesthetist is a specially trained nurse who may also administer general anesthesia, usually under the direct supervision of the anesthesiologist.

Some procedures may incorporate two different types of anesthesia.

For example, interventional radiology procedures, such as angiography, angioplasty, biopsies and embolization procedures, may use both a local anesthetic to numb the skin where a needle or catheter will be used, and deep sedation to help the patient stay calm and relaxed during the procedure.

Under deep sedation, a patient is normally able to breathe on his own without the assistance of a breathing machine.

Deep sedation is intended to relieve pain, reduce discomfort and/or reduce the likelihood of recalling a painful procedure. Prior to achieving or entering deep sedation, a patient passes through minimal and moderate levels of sedation.

The patient should respond to verbal commands or questions and will be able to respond appropriately when touched.

He or she can also follow the physician's instructions.

Anesthesiologists and qualified non-anesthesiologist healthcare professionals may administer this level of sedation.A local anesthetic is a medication that numbs the treated area.The numbness prevents or reduces pain and sensation.Under general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist remains with the patient throughout the procedure and carefully checks the patient's heart rate, electrocardiogram, blood pressure and oxygen delivery (pulse oximetry) at a minimum of five-minute intervals.Patients typically have amnesia regarding what happened during general anesthesia; only rarely do some patients remember events.To deliver general anesthesia and to maximize patient safety, a breathing tube (endotracheal tube) or another airway device (laryngeal mask airway) may be needed.

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