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Analgesics And Anesthetics

Discover the remarkable world of analgesics and anesthetics, uncovering their fascinating mechanisms and exploring their crucial roles in pain relief and medical procedures.

USMLE Guide: Analgesics And Anesthetics


The article "Analgesics And Anesthetics" discusses the various types of medications used for pain relief and anesthesia. This USMLE guide aims to summarize the key points from the article, helping medical students prepare for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

Key Points

  1. Analgesics: These are drugs used to relieve pain without causing a loss of consciousness. The three main classes of analgesics are opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and adjuvant analgesics.

    • Opioids: These drugs act on opioid receptors in the central nervous system, producing analgesia. Examples include morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Opioid analgesics have potential side effects such as respiratory depression, constipation, and sedation.

    • NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, reducing inflammation and pain. Common NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Side effects may include gastrointestinal ulcers, renal impairment, and bleeding disorders.

    • Adjuvant Analgesics: These drugs are typically used in conjunction with opioids or NSAIDs to enhance analgesia. Examples include anticonvulsants (e.g., gabapentin), antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline), and local anesthetics (e.g., lidocaine).

  2. Anesthetics: Anesthetics are drugs that induce a loss of sensation or consciousness. They are generally classified into two categories: general anesthetics and local anesthetics.

    • General Anesthetics: These drugs produce reversible unconsciousness and loss of sensation throughout the entire body. General anesthesia is typically administered intravenously or via inhalation. Common general anesthetics include propofol, thiopental, and sevoflurane.

    • Local Anesthetics: These drugs block nerve conduction in a specific area, resulting in loss of sensation only in the targeted region. Local anesthetics can be administered topically, infiltrated into tissues, or injected near nerves. Examples include lidocaine, bupivacaine, and ropivacaine.

  3. Routes of Administration: Analgesics and anesthetics can be administered via various routes depending on the medication, patient characteristics, and desired effect.

    • Oral Route: Medications are taken by mouth and absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. This route is convenient for oral analgesics.

    • Intravenous (IV) Route: Drugs are delivered directly into the bloodstream, allowing for rapid onset and precise control of drug effects. IV administration is commonly used for general anesthetics.

    • Topical Route: Medications are applied to the skin or mucous membranes to provide local analgesia or anesthesia. Examples include lidocaine patches or creams.

    • Inhalation Route: Anesthetics are inhaled through the lungs, reaching the bloodstream and producing systemic effects. inhalation anesthesia is used for general anesthesia.

    • Regional Route: Medications are injected near a specific nerve or group of nerves to produce regional anesthesia. This includes techniques like epidural, spinal, and peripheral nerve blocks.

    • Transdermal Route: Medications are administered through a patch placed on the skin. This allows for slow and continuous drug absorption. Fentanyl patches are an example of transdermal analgesics.


Understanding the different classes of analgesics and anesthetics, their mechanisms of action, and routes of administration is crucial for any medical professional. This USMLE guide provides a concise summary of the key points from the article "Analgesics And Anesthetics," ensuring medical students are well-prepared for related exam questions.

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