Anesthesia: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What type of medication is used to put me to sleep?

A: Most anesthesiologists use a combination of medicines to put you to sleep.  These medicines last a short period of time (about 20 minutes).  Once the patient is asleep, we place a breathing device to maintain control of breathing.  To keep patients asleep, we use anesthesia gas.  When the operation is over, we shut off the anesthetic and let the patient wake up.  The advantage of using this complicated system is that your anesthetic can be easily tailored to be as long or as short as it needs to be. 

Q: Will I be sick after the anesthesia?

A: The chance of nausea or vomiting after anesthesia has been greatly reduced because of improved anesthetic medications and the availability of several very effective anti-nausea medications which have fewer side effects. For certain operations where nausea is more likely, such as eye muscle surgery, ENT surgery and intra-abdominal surgery, we may administer anti-nausea medication through the IV before you awaken from anesthesia. If you notice nausea after your operation, please inform the nurse as early as possible. We can usually control this nausea with IV medication. Certain patients are very sensitive to anesthetic or pain medications and will continue to have nausea despite our best efforts. Fortunately, this has become an unusual occurrence. If you have special concerns about nausea, please discuss this with your anesthesiologist.

Q: How long should I fast prior to surgery?

A: If you do not have any of the risk factors listed in the previous section, then you may have clear liquids up to four hours prior to surgery. Clear liquids include water, fruit juice without pulp, clear tea and black coffee. Do not consume any beverages containing alcohol, non-clear liquids or solid food after midnight the night before your scheduled surgery. Infants may have breast milk up to four hours prior to surgery or infant formulae up to six hours prior to the scheduled time of surgery. Patients should take medications for heart conditions, high blood pressure or breathing problems at the usual scheduled times with small sips of water. 

Q: What medications should I take before surgery?

A: It is good to take the usual morning doses of medications for blood pressure, heart, lung and stomach conditions. Take all medications with small sips of water.  You should discuss the medications you are currently taking during your pre-operative anesthesia meeting.

Q: Will I have a separate bill for the anesthesia services?

A: Yes.  In addition to the surgeon's bill and the hospital's bill you will receive a separate bill for the services provided by your anesthesiologist.  If you are a "self-pay" patient (i.e. you have no insurance or your insurance will not cover your elective procedure), please contact our office in advance of your procedure to make the necessary payment arrangements.  Our courteous and professional staff will estimate your charges, which require you to pay in advance of your procedure.  Any balance due will be billed to you following the surgery.  

For more information, see Preparing for Surgery.