What is Anesthesia?
Modern anesthesia is a relatively safe and uneventful means of providing pain relief during and after surgery. There are three principal types of anesthesia: general, regional and local. General anesthesia causes you to lose consciousness via the administration of intravenous drugs and/or inhaled gases.
Regional anesthesia blocks sensation to a section of your body while you remain awake (although you may be sedated). Spinal and epidural anesthesia fall into this category, as do peripheral nerve blocks of the arms and legs. These methods can be used to help manage post-operative pain as well as provide anesthesia for surgery. Local anesthesia affects only the specific location of the surgery (usually used for less extensive procedures). You may be sedated or remain awake for a local.
Meeting with the anesthesiologist
Unless your surgeon has requested that we interview you in advance to provide pre-operative clearance, one of our anesthesiologists will meet with you just before your surgery to discuss your health history and current medical status. You should be prepared to explain to the anesthesiologist at that time about any medical problems and any medications you are taking. You should also be prepared to tell him/her about any dietary supplements or herbal products as well as whether you drink alcohol, smoke tobacco or if you take any other drugs, legal or otherwise. It is important to be completely honest in answering these questions because these things can have significant implications for the way medications may interact or work in your body.
It is also important for females to let the anesthesiologist know if there is any possibility of pregnancy. If you, or people in your family, have experienced problems with anesthesia in the past, it is a good idea to let your anesthesiologist know. Also, if you have allergies, or have experienced allergic reactions, to anything, you should let your anesthesiologist know.
After reviewing this information, the anesthesiologist will discuss your options for anesthesia during your surgery. At that time s/he will explain any of the pertinent risk factors and you will have an opportunity to ask questions.
If you have specific questions or concerns about your medical condition or operation prior to the day of surgery, please discuss them with your surgeon. S/he can then determine whether or not an advance pre-operative interview should be arranged with one of our anesthesiologists.
You should not eat or drink anything for at least eight (8) hours before your surgery. You should also refrain from smoking. If you are having ambulatory surgery, you should have someone ready to drive you home and to stay with you at home during the first twenty-four (24) hours.