Nurse holding anesthesia mask in operating room

Anesthesia is a state of controlled, temporary loss of sensation or awareness that is induced for medical purposes. It may include some or all of analgesia (relief from or prevention of pain), paralysis (muscle relaxation), amnesia (loss of memory), and unconsciousness. A patient under the effects of anesthetic drugs is referred to as being anesthetized.

Anesthesia enables the painless performance of medical procedures that would otherwise cause severe or intolerable pain to an unanesthetized patient, or would otherwise be technically unfeasible. Three broad categories of anesthesia exist: