General anesthesia is the condition in which a patient is unconscious and cannot feel pain or any other sensation. General anesthesia is used for most surgeries, and someone skilled at anesthesia is always present.
Conscious sedation is a condition in which the patient is awake, yet quite sleepy. This condition is used for many procedures done outside the operating room. A person from the Department of Anesthesiology may or may not be present.
Local anesthesia usually involves the injection of a medication under the skin, so the area becomes numb. This is often combined with conscious sedation for minor procedures.
Regional anesthesia is the process of injecting a medication near an area of nerves (such as the spinal cord) to block the transmission of sensations to the brain.
There are many types of regional anesthesia, but the most common are spinals and epidurals, which are often used during child labor and delivery. At Cincinnati Children's, most regional anesthesia is performed in combination with a general anesthetic and, therefore, is done after the patient is anesthetized.