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Are there different types of anesthesia?
There are three basic types of anesthesia:
- In general anesthesia, you are unconscious and free from pain. This is done by inhalation of gases or vapors through a breathing device, and/or intravenous medications introduced through a vein.
- In local anesthesia, the anesthetic drug is usually injected into the tissue to numb a specific location of your body requiring minor surgery, for example, on the hand or foot.
- In regional anesthesia, your anesthesiologist makes an injection near a cluster of nerves to numb a larger area of your body requiring surgery.
- During a regional or local anesthetic you will still be conscious but you may choose to receive medications through your IV to help you relax and be less aware of your surroundings.
What determines the type of anesthesia used?
During a preoperative interview your anesthesia provider will ask you several questions to help determine which anesthetic is best for you. Several factors will be taken into consideration when making this decision. They include:
- Your previous experience with, or any prior reactions to, anesthesia in the past.
- Your current and past health. Health problems or past surgeries you have had, such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes may make one anesthetic more preferable than another.
- The reason for your surgery and the type of surgery.
- The results of tests, such as blood tests or an electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG).
What can I expect?
After visiting with the anesthesia provider and determining a plan that is optimal for you, you will be taken to the procedure room where monitoring such as blood pressure cuff and EKG electrodes will be placed. You may or may not remember going into the operating room because sedation medications are often given through an IV as you come into the room. A member of the anesthesia care team stays with you constantly during your procedure, monitoring you closely and adjusting your medications, breathing, temperature, fluids and blood pressure as needed.
When the surgery is complete, the anesthesia drugs are discontinued and you will gradually wake up, either in the operating room or the recovery room. You'll may feel groggy and possibly even a little confused when you first wake up. You will be taken to the recovery room or day surgery where you will be closely monitored until you are more fully awake.
Why can’t I eat or drink anything during my procedure?
If you are scheduled to have surgery, you may be told not to eat or drink anything for eight hours before your surgery. It is very important that you follow whatever instructions you are given for not eating or drinking prior to surgery. Normally you swallow saliva and food without choking because part of the swallowing mechanism involves a reflex that covers the opening into the lungs When you are given anesthesia, you lose this ability to protect your lungs from inhaling things you're not supposed to inhale. If you have any solids or liquids in your stomach, they may “reflux” up your esophagus into your mouth and be inhaled into your lungs. The result could be a very serious lung infection.
My child is scheduled to have surgery, what can I expect?
Having a child undergo anesthesia is anxiety provoking to most parents. Rest assured that your child will be given our undivided attention and monitored very closely during their anesthetic.
Prior to surgery you will be given instructions on limiting your child’s eating and drinking. We realize this is not always easy but for your child’s safety it is extremely important that these instructions be followed. If for some reason your child has not followed these instructions make sure to tell the anesthesiologist.
You will be able to stay with your child right up until the time they go to the operating room. Once they are brought to the operating room, your child receives the anesthetic either by breathing gas through a mask or by injecting medicine into an IV. Blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, oxygenation, and temperature are closely monitored. Medications are given to prevent pain and nausea so that the child will wake up as comfortable as possible.
After the surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room for constant monitoring until he or she is fully awake. It is not uncommon for children to be somewhat emotional or disoriented during this period of waking up, however most often they will not even remember this. As soon as your child is safely settled in the recovery room a member of the care team will come and get you to be with your child as they recover from their anesthetic.
We realize that the hospital can be a scary place to children and we make every attempt to make this as pleasant as possible for them. Children often take their cues from you, so if you are calm and relaxed, they will most likely be too.
Remember, the day of your surgery you will have the opportunity to visit with an anesthesiologist. After discussing your health history and planned procedure, your anesthesiologist will recommend the best anesthetic option for you. You will have the opportunity to ask any additional questions you might have during this time.