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General anaesthesia is the state of controlled loss of sensation from the entire body associated with loss of consciousness. It is attained reversibly, along with muscle relaxation and analgesia, for the purpose of surgical intervention.
Modern general anaesthesia uses a number of agents in order to minimise the side effects of each, decrease the duration of anaesthesia and the time to recovery - 'balanced anaesthesia'. Hence, a muscle relaxant, analgesic agent, anaesthesia induction and maintenance agent can be used.
The patient may breath spontaneously or may be ventilated with or without being paralysed.