Anesthesia stops you from feeling pain and other sensations. It can be given in various ways and does not always make you unconscious.
Local anesthesia involves an injection that bumps small part of your body that is being operated on. You can stay conscious but free from pain.
Regional Anesthesia involves injections that numb a larger or deeper part of the body. You stay conscious but free from pain. E.g. Spinal, Epidural
General Anesthesia gives a state of controlled unconsciousness. It is essential for some operations. You are unconscious and feel nothing.
Anesthetists are doctors with specialist training who:
- Discuss the type or types of anesthetic that are suitable for your operation. If there are choices available, your anesthetist will help you choose what is best for you.
- Discuss the risk of anesthetic with you
- Discuss the plan with your for your anesthetic and pain control
- Are responsible for giving your anesthetic and for your wellbeing and safety throughout your surgery
- Manage any blood transfusions, infusions, I.V. medication (e.g. antibiotics) you may need
- Plan your care, if needed, in the intensive care unit
- Make your experience as calm and pain free possible
- Monitoring your throughout your surgery and recovery
Your anesthetist will meet you before your operation. They will refer to the discussion you had in the pre-assessment clinic. They will discuss that anesthetic you could have, including benefits, risks and your preferences.
They will then:
- Decide with you which anesthetic would be best for you
- Decide for you if you’re would prefer that.
If there is a choice of anesthetic, this will depend on:
- The operation you are having and your physical condition
- Your preferences and the reasons for them
- The recommendation of the anesthetist, based on experience
- The equipment, staff and resources at the hospital
Pre-medication (a ‘pre-med’) is given before some anesthetics. Pre-meds prepare your body for surgery – they may start off the pain relief, reduce acid in the stomach or help you relax. Some pre-meds make you drowsier after the operation. If you think a pre-med would help you, please ask your anesthetist.
An I.V. is used to start most anesthetics in adults. If you are very worried about this, please talk to your anesthetist.
This is the use of small amounts of anesthetic or similar drugs to produce ‘sleep like’ state. If you are having a local or regional anesthetic, you will need to decide whether you would prefer to:
- Be fully alert
- Be relaxed and sleepy (sedation) but not unconscious
- Have a general anesthetic as well
Nothing will happen to you until you understand and agree with what has been planned. You have the right to refuse if you do not want the treatment suggested or if you want more information or more time to decide.
- If you smoke, giving up for several weeks before the operation will reduce the risk of breathing problems during your anesthetic, making your anesthetic safer.
- If you are very overweight, reducing your weight will reduce many of the risks of having an anesthetic
- If you have loose teeth or crowns, treatment from your dentist may reduce the risk of damage to your teeth during the anesthetic.
- If you have a long standing medical problem such as diabetics, asthma or bronchitis, thyroid problems, heart problems or high blood pressure, you should ask your GP or internist if you need a check up.