Questions & Answers The Surgical Experience About Anaesthesia 

What kind of anaesthesia will I have during my surgery?

There are four different types of anaesthesia:

  • General Anaesthesia is often compared to sleep. With this kind of anaesthesia your anaesthetist will keep you in a carefully controlled state of unconsciousness. When your surgery is over, he or she will reverse the anaesthesia to allow you to regain consciousness in a controlled and comfortable manner.
  • Regional Anaesthesia produces numbness in a region of your body like your arm or leg. With anaesthesia of this kind you are comfortable but awake. Regional anaesthesia is often combined with sedation.
  • Local Anaesthesia numbs just a small part of your body. You remain conscious but feel no pain. Local anaesthesia may be produced by injection, creams or sprays and is often administered by your surgeon. The initial injection may sting slightly but then the area will go numb. If you would prefer to feel relaxed and sleepy during your procedure, local anaesthesia can be combined with sedation.
  • Sedation, which is usually produced with a tablet or injection, makes you feel pleasantly sleepy. You remain awake but usually remember very little of what happened during your procedure. Sedation is often combined with local or regional anaesthesia.

The kind of surgery you are having, your needs and preferences and your overall health will determine which of these kinds of anesthesia will be used during your procedure.

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What is the role of my anaesthetist?

Your anaesthetist will take care of you before, during and after your procedure, making sure you are safe and comfortable. He or she will also work closely with your surgeon to assure the correct blood supply and conditions for the area being treated. This is key to achieving the best results.

Here in the UK, anaesthetists are fully trained doctors with extensive training in how the body works, particularly the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. They are not only experts in anaesthesia but also in resuscitation, intensive care and pain control.

  • Before your procedure, your anaesthetist will meet with you to assess your fitness for surgery, decide with you and the surgeon which type of anaethesia will be used, and talk to you about your postoperative options, including any pain relief that will be required. He or she also checks all the equipment vital for your safety in the theatre suite and organizes the anaesthtic team to assure you the best and safest care.
  • During your procedure your anaesthetist will be at your side carefully monitoring your body's vital functions. If a general anaesthetic is being used, he or she will induce a state of unconsciousness that controls any pain and provides the best possible conditions for the areas on which the surgeon is working. Your anaestheist will also maintain your body's correct temperature, replace any fluids that are lost and help you wake up safely and comfortably when the procedure is over.
  • After your procedure your anaesthetist will look after you medically until you are discharged from the hospital. He or she will make sure you are not dehydrated, your vital functions are stable and you are as comfortable as possible. Your anaesthetist also advises the team and ward staff on when you can be discharged and on what pain-killing drugs you should take in hospital and at home.

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Are general anaesthetics safe?

Any operation and anaesthetic carries a slight risk, however if you are generally healthy this risk is very low. Millions of anaesthetics are administered every year, and thanks to modern expertise, techniques and equipment, serious problems are extremely rare

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Will my fitness affect my anaesthetic?

The fitter you are, the better your heart and lungs can tolerate anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist may ask about your physical fitness and if you have any significant medical problems you may need a preoperative consultation with the anaesthetist to optimize your state of health.

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Will I need tests?

Very occasionally you may need preoperative investigations such as blood tests, x-rays or electrocardiograms. These will be discussed with you during your preoperative assessment. For your convenience, testing can often be done on the day of your procedure, however, occasionally tests will be done in advance. All tests will be interpreted by the staff, including your anaesthetist and surgeon, before your procedure.

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