Important patient Information
The more informed you are, the better prepared you will be for surgery and the more successful your overall experience. We encourage you to ask questions and to learn as much as you can before any surgical, procedure.
What are the three forms of anesthesia?
“Anesthesia” means “without feeling” and can be local, regional, or general. Each type of anesthesia serves a specific purpose and demands special training and skill.
In local anesthesia, an anesthetic drug is injected into the tissue around a nerve, numbing the specific area requiring minor surgery. You may be fully awake or sedated. It is a very safe procedure.
In regional anesthesia, your anesthesiologist makes an injection near a cluster of nerves to numb the area that requires surgery. You may remain awake, or you may be given a sedative and lose consciousness.
In general anesthesia, you will “go to sleep,” become unconscious, and have no awareness or any other sensation. During surgery, you are carefully monitored, and treated by your anesthesiologist, using state of the art equipment to track your major bodily functions. A breathing tube may be inserted during surgery. The length and level of anesthesia is calculated and adjusted precisely. At the conclusion of surgery, your anesthesiologist will allow you to emerge from anesthesia and then accompany you to the recovery unit.
Risks and how to reduce them
All operations and all anesthetics carry some risks, depending on the type of surgery performed and the patient’s medical condition. Fortunately, adverse events are rare.
- Provide complete information about your health and medical history
- Strictly follow the fasting guidelines
- Use only authorized medications, drugs, vitamins, herbs, and supplements
Be informed! Consult with both your surgeon and your anesthesiologist about any risks associated with your specific situation.
How you can prepare for your surgery?
Fasting Guidelines: What are the diet restrictions before my anesthesia?
Fasting before surgery is absolutely essential for your safety. After midnight on the night before your surgery, you should not eat or drink anything. Under certain circumstances, your anesthesiologist may give you permission to drink clear liquids up to a few hours before anesthesia. Elective surgery may be cancelled if fasting instructions are not followed.
Tip: Simplify your diet as the date of your surgery approaches. Limit your intake of caffeine, sweets, greasy foods, and alcohol.
Can I take my usual medicines?
It is extremely important that your surgeon and your anesthesiologist have a complete list of your medications. They will help you determine which ones you can safely take at the time of surgery. Do not interrupt medications unless you are instructed otherwise.
Tip: It is not unusual to become a bit distracted as the date of surgery approaches, so start making a list of your prescriptions and other important personal medical information well ahead of time.
Will dietary supplements and herbal medicines affect my anesthesia during surgery?
Anesthesiologists have discovered, through first-hand experience and through ongoing medical research that certain vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbal medicines interact with certain anesthetics. In fact, supplements and herbs may prolong the effects of anesthesia, increase risk of bleeding, or raise blood pressure. Give your doctor a complete list before surgery, so that there are no unexpected complications during surgery (e.g.,Echinacea, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, St. Johnswort, ginger, etcetera).
The Day of Surgery
What happens on the day of surgery?
#1:Relax as much as you can. Bring a close friend or family member along for support and to give you a ride home.
#2: Checking in
Once you check into the surgery center and your paperwork has been completed, you will meet with a preoperative nurse. He or she will briefly review your medical history, record your vital signs, and ask you to change into a surgical gown. You will then be taken to a preoperative waiting area.
#3: Preoperative Interview
Your anesthesiologist will meet with you to:
- Review your medical and surgical history
- Perform a focused physical examination
- Discuss any medical conditions needing attention during surgery
- Explain the plan for your anesthetic as well as alternatives and risks
- Address your questions and concerns
The anesthesiologist may place an intravenous catheter (IV) and may also give intravenous medication to help you relax.
#4: During Surgery
The anesthesiologist is responsible for your safety, comfort and wellbeing throughout the surgical procedure- directing and regulating your anesthetic, managing vital functions, and, when necessary, managing fluid and blood replacement.
Where and how will I wake up?
You may be drowsy and mildly confused as you awaken from general anesthesia or sedation. Your initial recovery will take place in a specialized area called the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) or recovery room. Nurses with specialized training or ICU experience will closely monitor your vital signs and overall condition. Your anesthesiologist will check in to see how you are doing and whether you need any further pain medication. You will stay in the PACU until you meet the criteria for discharge to your home.
Will I have pain or nausea when I wake up?
Despite all efforts to prevent these unwanted consequences of surgery and anesthesia, it is possible that you will experience pain or nausea in the PACU. If you experience pain or nausea, alert the nursing staff immediately. Some individuals are more prone to these symptoms than others. Fortunately, there are postoperative medications available to control pain, nausea and vomiting.
Note that a sore throat after anesthesia is not uncommon and should disappear within a day or two. If you experience a persistent sore throat, please contact our office or your surgeon for advice.