Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some commonly asked questions about anesthesia. If you don’t see your question answered below, please contact us and let us know how we can help.
An anesthesiologist is a physician specially trained to keep you safe and comfortable before, during and after your procedure. They are expertly trained in human physiology (how the body works) and all medical conditions affecting people from premature infants to the elderly. They complete an undergraduate degree followed by four years of medical school and then four years of residency.
It is very important to follow the written directions provided at your preoperative clinic visit and/or by your surgeon’s office. Most medications can be continued before surgery, but some can be potentially harmful if not stopped prior to having an anesthetic or surgery.
This depends on the type of anesthesia you receive. There are different levels of anesthesia, ranging from MAC (Monitored Anesthesia Care) to general anesthesia. MAC is IV sedation where you receive a carefully administered dose of medication to keep you asleep comfortably for less severe types of surgery. This can be combined with local anesthetic injected at the site of your surgical incision, in your back (spinal or epidural) or around a nerve (regional anesthesia) to make you more comfortable. The deepest level of anesthesia is a general anesthetic.
This is to protect your lungs. As you go off to sleep and wake up at the end of surgery, you are at risk of aspiration. Aspiration is the unintentional vomiting and then breathing those contents into your lungs. This can be a very serious condition that can result in the need for a ventilator and potentially result in death. By waiting a prescribed period of time, this allows your stomach to empty and decreases the risk of aspiration. Please refer to your written directions provided at your preoperative clinic visit and/or by your surgeon’s office. Failure to do so may result in your surgery getting delayed or cancelled. Please call your physician’s office if you are unsure.
The vast majority of surgeries require an IV. This allows you to receive medications to get you off to sleep, to treat any problems while you are asleep, and to keep you comfortable and safe.
Some may experience dreams while asleep, but most people do not. Whether the surgery is thirty minutes or four hours, it will feel like five minutes to you.
No. It is important that you not drive or make any important decisions for 24 hours following surgery. This includes signing any legal documents. You must have a responsible adult to help assist you if you are discharged the day of surgery.
OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) is a clinical condition that is diagnosed by a sleep study, but your risk can be evaluated by the STOP BANG questionnaire. A member of the preoperative team will ask you this questionnaire before surgery to help us keep you comfortable and safe. People that have OSA are at risk of airway obstruction (blocked breathing), especially if you receive pain and sedating medications.
Your safety is our greatest concern. You should tell them:
- When you ate last
- Any changes in medications or medical conditions
- Any illegal drug use
- Any history of complications with anesthesia with you or relatives*
*Specific complications include allergies, high temperature with anesthesia (malignant hyperthermia), difficulty waking up, requiring a ventilator afterward, and abnormal metabolism of drugs (pseudocholinesterase deficiency).
Anesthesiologists administer more IV medications than all other physicians combined. This includes very potent pain medications to keep you comfortable. Each person is different in the amount needed, and this can be influenced by pain medication you take at home. Your comfort and safety are very important to us.
The most common side effects include headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and sore throat. Not everyone will experience these symptoms. You will likely receive medication for pain and nausea to help decrease your risk. More serious complications are rare. Your anesthesiologist will discuss the risks with you on the day of surgery.