Frequently Asked Questions
(Please See Disclaimer)
- What is anesthesia ?
- Who provides anesthetic care ?
- Who picks the anesthesiologist ?
- What are my anesthesia choices?
- Why can’t I eat or drink before surgery ?
- Should I take my medicine before surgery ?
- How will I feel after anesthesia ?
- What information is important to my Anesthesiologist?
- How do I pay for anesthesia ?
- What else do I need to know?
- Where can I learn more ?
In a general sense, one performs anesthesia by rendering a patient insensible to pain. However, the practice of anesthesia is much more than this. Anesthesiologists not only provide insensibility to pain during surgical, therapeutic and diagnostic procedures, but they also monitor your well being and maintain important body functions during your operation. In other words, while you are incapable of protecting yourself, anesthesiologists will do this for you. In addition, anesthesiologists diagnose and treat patients with chronic and acute pain disorders.
Physicians who provide anesthesia are called anesthesiologists. They receive three or more years of specialty training in anesthesia after they finish medical school. Anesthesiologists may medically direct Registered nurses and Physicians assistants who can also perform anesthesia after 18 months to 2 years of additional training. These practitioners are called CRNAs and PAs, respectively. The American Society of Anesthesiologists recognizes both types of anesthetists and has guidelines for the Care Team relationship. Northside Anesthesiology Consultants, LLC. adheres to these guidelines.
The surgeon performing the surgery may choose your anesthesiologist or anesthesia medical practice. Of course as a consumer, the patient may ask for a particular anesthesiologist, but the facility or surgeon may not be able to honor this request in all cases. In instances where the patient has a pain syndrome, they are usually referred to a specific anesthesiologist or group by a referring physician.
There are three basic types of care which can be administered by your anesthesia provider. Depending on what surgical procedure is planned, you may be offered (1) general anesthesia, (2) regional anesthesia, or (3) monitored anesthesia care (sedation and monitoring). Each of these types involve the possibility of complications, and your anesthesiologist has the responsibility of selecting the technique which will offer the greatest safety and comfort. He or she will take into consideration a variety of factors, including the nature of the operation to be done, your medical and psychological condition, the desires of the surgeon, recommendations of other physicians involved in your care, and your own preferences.
GENERAL ANESTHESIA is the most common technique used in the operating room. Medicines are used which cause the patient to be unconscious. Depending upon your individual situation, the role of the anesthesia provider may include assisting you with breathing, regulating your blood pressure, and closely watching the heartbeat so that he or she can correct irregularities if necessary. When the surgery is complete, he or she will take you to the recovery room to assist in your wake-up process. When he or she is satisfied that your recovery is proceeding well, he or she will ask the recovery room nurses to care for you as you continue the recovery process.
REGIONAL ANESTHESIA uses a nerve block with a local anesthetic to make a part of the body numb. Anesthesiologists commonly combine these techniques with sedation so that you can feel relaxed and can even sleep through the procedure. The most common types of regional anesthesia include arm blocks, spinal anesthesia, and epidural anesthesia. An arm block can be used for many operations on the hand, forearm, and shoulder. Spinal and epidural anesthesia can be used for many operations below the chest. If regional anesthesia or sedation is used but is found to be unsatisfactory, your anesthesiologist may induce general anesthesia if necessary to maintain your safety and comfort.
MONITORED ANESTHESIA CARE (sedation and monitoring) may involve the use of tranquilizers and narcotics to help you have a safe and comfortable visit to the operating room. These medicines may be used together with local anesthesia injected by the surgeon or with regional anesthesia administered by the anesthesiologist. Sometimes, "sedation" may resemble a general anesthetic. A patient may appear to be asleep and not remember operative events.
Your anesthesiologist has the knowledge and experience to recommend the technique best-suited to your particular situation. He or she will help you select the type of anesthesia to achieve the highest safety and comfort for your surgical experience.
Most drugs that render you insensible to pain also decrease your protective reflexes. Some of these reflexes prevent the very acidic stomach contents from entering your lungs. When stomach contents get into the lungs it is called aspiration and it can result in serious lung injury or death. We will ask you not to eat or drink anything for a period prior to surgery so that you will have minimal stomach contents at the time of surgery. You should receive instruction concerning this issue during the preoperative evaluation process. If you have NOT received instruction and you are an adult, you may use the guideline of taking nothing solid to eat after midnight (this includes chewing gum, mints, etc.) the night before your surgery and only clear liquids until six (6) hours prior to surgery.
A clear liquid is a fluid that you can read newsprint through. Examples: Water, Apple Juice, Sprite, etc.
This is something that you should definitely ask during the preoperative evaluation process. Your surgeon, anesthesiologist, or preoperative nurse can answer this question. It is very hard to make generalizations about this issue, as some drugs can interfere with a safe anesthetic while the termination of others before surgery can be hazardous.
Most people who receive an anesthetic experience sleepiness for about 24 hours following their surgery. All of the health facilities that NAC serve require that the patient have a friend or family drive them home after surgery. In addition, you should not make any major decisions or operate a vehicle within the first 24 hours of your anesthetic. The usual side effects following anesthesia are nausea and vomiting and a sore throat. Other issues that concern your particular medical condition will be explained to you if necessary.
If you or a blood relative have had a problem related to anesthesia or surgery, please let your anesthesiologist know. A thorough medical history and physical exam is, of course the most important information your anesthesiologist can receive. They will need to know if you have significant medical problems in order to suggest the safest possible anesthetic management. Please be sure to carefully fill in the pre-operative forms that you receive and review your medical problems with your anesthesiologist during your pre-operative interview.
In the majority of cases, the patient will pay for his or her anesthetic with a combination of their health insurance and a co-pay. Northside Anesthesiology Consultants, LLC. is an independent physician group and are not employed by the hospital. You should contact your health insurance provider for further information.
In some situations the anesthesiologist may use special techniques to measure blood pressure, administer intravenous fluids or to otherwise care for you.
A nurse should be called when a patient is ready to stand-up for the first time after receiving anesthesia.
A patient must avoid driving, cooking, power tools, important decisions, and all activities requiring full alertness for a minimum of 24 hours following anesthesia or sedation.
Anesthesia involves some risks but the use of anesthetics for the relief and protection from pain during surgical procedures is an integral part of the procedure.
Sometimes the anesthetic plan may have to be changed, possibly without immediate explanation to the patient.
You will have the opportunity to ask questions about your condition, alternative forms of anesthesia and the risks involved.
To find other medical links on the web, visit our Links page.