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Facts About Surgical Anesthesia

Anesthesia is an important part of an operation, not only in relieving pain, but also making the operation easier, faster and safer. Anesthesia may involve all or part of your body.

Usually, general anesthesia for adults is started with an injection in the intravenous tubing and is continued by a gas. During regional anesthesia, only a portion of the body is anesthetized and sedatives will be used to keep you relaxed and sleeping if desired. Sometimes an anesthesiologist will use a combination of regional and general anesthesia.

If you are pregnant or think you might be, it is important to tell your surgeon and anesthesiologist.

Who administers the Anesthetic?

Anesthesia is given by specially trained doctors called anesthesiologists and by specially trained nurses called Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). These specialists work as a team to provide anesthesia care throughout your operation.

How will the Anesthetic be selected?

An anesthesiologist will study your chart and talk with you and your surgeon about your health and operation. This information is used to decide the type of anesthesia best for you. You will have an opportunity to ask any questions of the anesthesiologist about your anesthetic. Consideration will be given to your personal preferences and previous anesthetic experience.

What are some of the possible side effects of Anesthesia?

  • When you are being anesthetized or while you are waking up, you may bite very hard and, despite all precautions, damage your teeth. This may happen particularly if your teeth are weak, damaged, loose, capped or you have permanent bridges. However, this is unusual and occurs less than once in every 2,000 anesthetics.
  • During general anesthesia, a tube is usually placed in the windpipe to help you breathe. It occasionally causes a sore throat that may last a day or so after your operation.
  • Nausea may occur for a short time after an operation from the procedure or anesthesia. If necessary, you can ask the nurse for medication to help decrease the nausea.
  • Infrequently (less than two percent of the time) patients receiving spinal anesthesia (regional anesthesia) develop a headache. To discuss ways to reduce the headache, talk with your anesthesiologist when he or she visits you after surgery or call 734-655-2000 during daytime hours. This type of headache usually goes away by itself, but if it persists, it can be treated effectively by special techniques.