Anesthesia is the loss of feeling or sensation with or without a loss of consciousness. In addition to keeping the patient pain free while undergoing surgery, anesthesia controls the body’s reaction to stress and relieves the fear and anxiety that can be associated with surgery.
Are there different types of anesthesia?
Many types of anesthesia are available to make you insensible to pain during a surgical procedure. When the body is anesthetized and you are unconscious, it is called a general anesthetic. This state may be produced by injecting different medications through a vein, by the inhalation of anesthesia gases, or by combinations of these. When only a portion of the body is anesthetized or made numb, the technique is known as regional anesthesia. Different types of regional anesthesia may be utilized, including local anesthetic injection, spinal, epidural, or caudal injection, and nerve blocks.
Frequently, when a regional anesthetic is used, you may also be given additional sedation so you will be relaxed and pleasantly sleepy during the operation.
What can I expect before surgery?
An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your anesthetic. Your medical history, physical condition and the results of laboratory and special studies will be reviewed and other factors such as your age and physical status, the requirements of the surgeon, and the type of operation you are having will be considered. Based on this information, a particular anesthetic technique or possible alternatives will be discussed with you. While the final choice is up to you, we urge you to follow the recommendations of your anesthesiologist.
If you talk with an anesthesiologist before the day of your surgery, you will be given some instructions related to your anesthetic. It is important for your safety and well being that you follow those instructions as closely as possible.
What will happen during surgery?
Before your anesthetic begins, an intravenous infusion (IV) will be started and you will be connected to a number of monitoring devices. You may receive certain preoperative medications in the holding area prior to being taken to the operative room.
Your anesthetic may be administered by the anesthesiologist who interviewed you ahead of time, another physician in the group or by a nurse anesthetist closely supervised by an AMG anesthesiologist. These individuals will be familiar with your previous evaluation and will be responsible for stabilizing your vital functions and administering appropriate medications and fluids.
What to expect after surgery?
When your operation or procedure is completed, you will be taken to a recovery room or an intensive care unit, where you will be closely observed and monitored by staff trained and experienced in the care of patients recovering from surgery. Anesthesiologists will be available for consultation in this area. When your condition is stable, you will be returned to your room or allowed to go home.
It is common to have some pain and discomfort after an operation. One of our goals is to try to minimize this discomfort. Current understanding and technology offer a variety of ways to help relieve your pain. When appropriate, these alternatives will be discussed with you by an anesthesiologist or your surgeon, and a plan for the management of your pain will be developed.
A member of the anesthesia staff will attempt to contact you following your anesthetic to see that you are recovering as we expect.
Our goal is to be as careful and vigilant as possible during your anesthetic and to conduct you through this period as safely and comfortably as we can.
What are the side effects of anesthesia?
Anesthetics may be followed by side effects. They are not common, are rarely life threatening and usually last only a short time. Even though we try very hard to minimize these side effects, they may occur in spite of our efforts. These side effects include, but are not limited to:
1) Dry and/or sore mouth or throat: normal secretions are reduced and a tube may have been inserted to help you breathe and to protect your airway.
2) Nausea and/or vomiting: can be related to many factors in addition to the anesthetic, and is more common following certain types of surgery.
3) Sore jaw: if jaw support was necessary during the anesthetic.
4) Short memory lapse: may occur during the recovery period as drug effects wear off.
5) Headache: may occur after general or spinal anesthesia. These are usually brief in duration and can be effectively treated.
6) Phlebitis: irritation of a vein by intravenous fluids or medications.
7) Eye irritation: due to decreased tear formation and reduced protective fluid reflexes.
8) Damage to teeth: capped, loose or false teeth or teeth in poor condition may be damaged during an anesthetic. Rarely even normal teeth may be affected during safety or protective procedures related to the anesthetic. Although we make every effort to protect your teeth, such damage is a recognized and accepted hazard of anesthesia. We cannot accept responsibility for injury to teeth, dental caps, crowns or bridges.
Major complications following anesthesia are fortunately quite rare, but may occur. These include such problems as stroke, coma, heart attack, kidney or liver failure, paralysis, organ damage, brain or nerve damage, aspiration of stomach contents or even death.