- What are the risks of anesthesia?
- Are there different kinds of anesthesia?
- Is pain relief in my spine safe?
- What should I wear to the hospital or facility?
- Are long surgeries more dangerous?
- I want an epidural when I have my baby, how does that work?
- Could herbal medicines, vitamins and other dietary supplements affect my anesthesia?
- Should I take my usual medicines?
- What about eating or drinking before my anesthesia?
- Should I stop smoking before my surgery?
- Will I be sick after my procedure?
- Should my throat be sore after surgery?
- Will I be able to drive afterward?
- Should my IV site continue to be sore after surgery?
- What if I still have questions?
What are the risks of anesthesia?
All operations and anesthesia have associated risks affected by many factors such as type of surgery and your personal medical condition. Consult your anesthesiologist to learn more about any risks that may be associated with your specific treatment plan.
Are there different kinds of anesthesia?
There are three main types of anesthesia: local, regional, and general.
Local anesthesia: This procedure uses an anesthetic drug that is injected into the tissue to numb a specific location of your body requiring minor surgery.
Regional anesthesia: Your anesthesiologist makes an injection near a cluster of nerves to numb the area of your body that requires surgery. You might be awake, or you may be given something to help you relax. There are several kinds of regional anesthesia. Two of the most frequently used are spinal and epidural anesthesia, which are produced by injections made with great exactness in the appropriate areas of the back. They are frequently preferred for childbirth and prostate surgery.
General anesthesia: You are unconscious and have no awareness or other sensations. There are a number of general anesthetic drugs. Some are gases or vapors inhaled through a breathing mask or tube and others are medications introduced through a vein. During general anesthesia, you are carefully monitored, controlled and treated by your anesthesiologist. A breathing tube may be inserted through your mouth and frequently into the windpipe to maintain proper breathing during this period. The length and level of anesthesia is calculated and constantly adjusted with great precision. At the conclusion of surgery, your anesthesiologist will reverse the process and you will regain awareness in the recovery room.
Is pain relief in my spine safe?
You can rest assured that spinal anesthesia is a safe choice for many surgeries. When offered this type of anesthesia, many patients are concerned about serious side effects, such as paralysis, and also about troubling but less dangerous side effects, such as headache. There is a common, although false, perception that these complications occur often. In fact, spinal anesthesia has a long track record of safety, with a very low rate of serious complications.
What should I wear to the hospital or facility?
Please wear loose fitting clothes that are easy to put on and will fit over bulky bandages or surgical dressings. Leave your jewelry and valuables at home.
Are long surgeries more dangerous?
There is no evidence that the duration of general anesthesia by itself increases the risks of anesthesia complications.
I want an epidural when I have my baby, how does that work?
An epidural block is given in the lower back and is designed to relieve labor pain. You will either be sitting up or lying on your side when you receive your epidural. The block is administered below the level of the spinal cord. The anesthesiologist will use a local anesthesia to numb an area of your lower back. A special needle is placed in the epidural space just outside the spinal sac. This procedure can be more fully discussed with your physican.
Could herbal medicines, vitamins and other dietary supplements affect my anesthesia?
Anesthesiologists are conducting research to determine exactly how certain herbs and dietary supplements interact with certain anesthetics. They are finding that certain herbal medicines may prolong the effects of anesthesia. Others may increase the risks of bleeding or raise blood pressure. Some effects may be subtle and less critical, but for safety reasons, it is critical to tell your doctor about everything you take prior to surgery. Anticipating a possible reaction is better than reacting to an unexpected condition.
Should I take my usual medicines?
Some medications should be taken and others should not. It is important to discuss this with your anesthesiologists. Do not interrupt medications unless your anesthesiologist or surgeon recommends it.
What about eating or drinking before my anesthesia?
As a general rule, you should not eat or drink anything after midnight before your surgery. Under some circumstances, you may be given permission by your anesthesiologist to drink clear liquids up to a few hours before your anesthesia.
Should I stop smoking before my surgery?
Yes – it is important to quit smoking now. Your surgery represents a golden opportunity to do so. There is evidence that smokers who quit at or before surgery experience fewer symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and are more likely to succeed in their attempt to stop smoking long term. Even if it’s only a week or two before surgery, there is still a benefit to quitting.
You can find materials that the ASA has developed to help you stop smoking at http://www.asahq.org/For-Members/Clinical-Information/ASA-Stop-Smoking-Initiative.aspx.
Will I be sick after my procedure?
Nausea or vomiting may be related to anesthesia, types of surgical procedures or postoperative pain medications. Although less of a problem today because of improved anesthetic agents and techniques, these side effects continue to occur for some patients. Medications to minimize postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting are often given by your antesthesiologist during the surgical procedure and in recovery.
Should my throat be sore after surgery?
A sore throat after general anesthesia is not uncommon, occurring about 20-30% of the time. In most cases it is mild, and gets better without treatment over a couple of days. It is unusual for the soreness to last longer than a few weeks. If this does occur, please contact your physician.
Will I be able to drive afterward?
No. Please make arrangements for a responsible adult to take you home after your procedure. You will not be allowed to leave alone or drive yourself. It is strongly suggested that someone stay with you during the first 24 hours after your surgery.
Should my IV site continue to be sore after surgery?
Phlebitis is a term that means inflammation of a blood vessel. Phlebitis occurs quite commonly after the insertion of an IV. Factors affecting this condition include location of IV, the duration that the IV has been in place, the type of material that the IV is made of, the length of the IV catheter, and disorders such as diabetes. If you continue to feel pain and have swelling for more than three weeks you should contact your physician.
What if I still have questions?
Additional questions can be addressed by your physician or anesthesiologist. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. We will answer every question as clearly and honestly as possible.