Anesthesia

What is anesthesia?
Anesthesia means not feeling pain as a result of the use of drugs. The type of anesthesia you receive is based on your medical condition and the kind of surgery you are having.
 
Who gives anesthesia?
An anesthesiologist: a medical doctor specially trained in anesthesiology. These specialists are very knowledgeable about the effect of medications and the body’s response to surgery.
 
What does your anesthesiologist do?
  • Provides your anesthesia care.
  • Stays with you during the entire surgery.
  • Carefully keeps an eye on your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
  • Supervises your recovery from anesthesia and your initial pain control after your operation.
  • Your anesthesiologist will be glad to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you may have about your anesthetic.
 
When will I meet my anesthesiologist?
Most healthy patients will see their anesthesiologist on the day of their surgery. Patients with medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, are often seen by the anesthesiologist before the day of their surgery in a Pre-op Anesthesia Consult, arranged by your surgeon.
 
How can I prepare for my operation?
  • Improving your general physical condition can help you heal faster after an operation.
  • Giving up smoking for at least six weeks before your operation. This will help your blood to transport more oxygen, and help you to heal after your surgery.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. No alcohol for 24 hours before or after surgery.
  • Stop using recreational drugs for as long as possible.
  • Reduce your weight if you are overweight, to improve your overall physical condition prior to surgery.
  • Long-standing medical conditions should be stable.
  • Remove all jewelry prior to admission for your safety. If in the mouth or nose, it may become dislodged, and could end up either in your stomach or lungs. Rings may stop blood circulation to fingers or toes. The hospital is not responsible if any of your jewelry should be lost. 
  • Remove nail polish from fingers and toes.
  • You will receive instructions about taking your regular medications on the day of surgery.
  • Ensure you have a competent driver to take you home from day surgery
 
Your surgery may be cancelled for your own safety if you do not follow these instructions.
 
What will my anesthesiologist want to know about me?
  • Details about your overall health and a full medical history - including any prescription, non-prescription, recreational medications, and natural remedies.
  • Allergies.
  • Smoking and/or alcohol use.
  • Unusual reactions to anesthesia (yourself or a close family member).
  • Details of any dental work (i.e. loose teeth, false teeth, caps or crowns).
  • Any significant neck, jaw, joint or back problems.
 
What about my medication on the day of my operation?
Your medical condition and medications will be reviewed with you in the Pre-Admission Clinic on the day of your visit or on the day of your surgery. 
 
For how long am I NOT supposed to eat or drink prior to my surgery?
The nurses in the Pre-Admission Clinic, your surgeon, or your surgeon's office will give you exact instructions.
 
These fasting guidelines are important for your safety. Under anesthesia, some people may regurgitate, or vomit, and this material from your stomach could enter into your lungs and result in serious lung damage, or even death. 
 
If you do not follow the instructions given to you, your surgery may be postponed or cancelled.
 
What happens at the end of my surgery? 
  • Pain medication will be given.
  • You will be taken to the Post Anesthetic Care Unit (PACU) otherwise known as the recovery room.
  • A PACU nurse will assess you and provide the appropriate care.
  • If you are a patient being admitted to the hospital, you will be taken to your room after your stay in PACU.
  • You should NOT drive, operate any machinery, or make important decisions for at least 24 hours after leaving the recovery room (PACU). 
Will I need a blood transfusion?
It depends on many factors, such as the type of operation you are having and the condition of your own blood before surgery. This issue will be discussed with you at the time of your surgery.
 
What are the different types of anesthesia? 
At your Pre-Admission Clinic (PAC) visit, different types of anesthesia may be discussed. The Anaesthetist, on the day of your surgery will discuss with you anesthetic methods that are appropriate for your surgery. 
 
Anesthetic choices are based on your surgery, your overall health, and your personal preference. Anesthesia types are often combined. This helps to improve pain control, comfort, and anxiety.
 
Local anesthesia: 
  • Medication is used to numb or freeze a small part of the body.
  • You will be conscious, but will not experience any pain.
  • It is common to feel pressure or tugging during the operation.
 
Regional anesthesia (blocks): 
  • Local anesthetic (freezing) is injected near large bundles of nerves, so that larger parts of the body are ‘frozen’ (have no sensation).
  • Examples of blocks: epidural, spinal (lower half of body frozen), and upper limb blocks (one arm frozen).
 
General anesthesia:
  • A controlled state of consciousness. 
  • General anesthesia is started by either injecting medication into your intravenous (IV), or by breathing anesthetic gas from a mask.
  • Once you are asleep, a breathing device is inserted into your mouth and this helps you to breathe while you are anesthetized. 
  • Sedation: 
  • Drugs used will make you feel mentally and physically relaxed. 
  • Are usually given into your intravenous (IV).
What are the risks of anesthesia?
Very common (1 in 10 chance) to common (1 in 100 chance):
  • Feeling sick to your stomach and vomiting
  • Sore throat, hoarse voice
  • Dizziness, blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Pain during drug injection
  • Temporary confusion, memory loss
 
Uncommon (1 in 1000 to 1 in 10,000 chance):
  • Chest infection
  • Difficulty with bladder control
  • Muscular pain
  • Slow breathing
  • Jaw joint pain
  • Damage to teeth, lips, gums. (Damage to teeth during intubation may be considered a risk associated with intubation). 
  • Awareness (becoming conscious during anesthesia)
 
Rare (1 in 10,000 chance) to very rare (1 in 100,000 chance):
  • Damage to eyes
  • Serious allergy to drugs
  • Nerve damage
  • Stroke/heart attack/death
 
Where can I get more information?
  • From your anesthesiologist prior to your surgery.
  • From the Pre-Admission Clinic nurse.
  • From the following websites: