FAQ’s Before your surgery

Below is a list of frequently asked questions to help address your concerns.

Rest assured you will have the chance prior to your procedure to meet with your anesthesiologist who will answer any additional questions you may have.


What is an anesthesiologist?
Anesthesiologists are physicians who have specialized training to provide pain control, pain relief and care for the general well-being of the patient in the operating room. They are able to monitor and regulate changes in breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, etc., that are important to your condition while undergoing surgery. Anesthesiologists have completed college, four years of medical school, a medical or surgical internship and three years of anesthesiology residency.

Is there anything else that anesthesiologists do?
Anesthesiologists also fulfill a role outside of the operating room with their knowledge of preoperative assessment and planning, analgesia for labor and delivery, critical care in the intensive care unit and recovery room, postoperative pain management and management of chronic pain syndromes.

What do I need to tell the anesthesiologist?
Your anesthesiologist, an associate, or a preoperative nurse will interview you before your surgical procedure to evaluate your general health. This interview will usually take place by phone, but may involve a visit to the facility. Your anesthesiologist may require preoperative lab tests including an EKG and blood work or require you to visit your specialist (e.g. cardiologist) before surgery. You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your previous anesthetic experience, any medical conditions and allergies you may have and medications you may be taking.

What are the pre-surgical appointments for? The pre-surgical appointments serve a dual purpose. First, they are a chance to gather important information about you and your medical condition in order to help develop a treatment plan that is right for you. In addition, it is a chance for you to ask any questions you might have about what is going to happen, to listen to your anesthetic options and to provide informed consent.

What is informed consent?
Informed consent means that you, the patient, have been presented with the options for treatment, the common and serious risks and expected benefits of each option and the likely outcomes of the treatment, or of no treatment. In addition, you have been given a chance to ask questions. Informed consent is documented in the medical record and usually requires your signature that you have had this conversation with your health care provider and agree to the plan of treatment (exceptions are extreme emergencies).

What medications will I have to take?
The preoperative nurse will give you instructions concerning what medications to take, if any, on the morning of surgery. Once your surgery is completed, you will receive instructions about when to resume your normal medication regimen. You may also receive additional medications such as pain killers or antibiotics after the surgery.

What about eating and drinking?You should not eat or drink anything before your surgery. The preoperative nurse will give you instructions about how long you need to fast. Receiving anesthesia on a full stomach may lead to aspiration. This occurs when stomach contents end up in the lungs, and can lead to a serious pneumonia and a life threatening situation. After the surgery, you will first be given sips of clear liquids and then allowed to eat a light meal when you are able.

What are the common risks of anesthesia?
Luckily, the most common complications of anesthesia are not usually severe. The most common complications include nausea, vomiting, sore throat, blood pressure changes and pain. These symptoms are usually mild, and easily treated with medication. More serious complications may include allergic reactions, genetic conditions, a stroke or a heart attack, which can lead to serious disability or death. With the application of new technologies to the field of anesthesia and the careful monitoring of the anesthesia provider, anesthesia is considered very safe.

Can I request the specific type of anesthesia that I want?
To some degree you can. Some operations can be performed with different types of anesthesia while some require a specific technique. Your anesthesiologist will review your planned surgery and your medical condition. Then he/she will be able to discuss your options with you.

Do I have to have a breathing tube? General anesthesia often results in the loss of the ability to breathe on your own. There are different ways to assist your breathing – one of which is the breathing tube (known as an endotracheal tube). There are many situations when the placement of a breathing tube is the safest and most reliable method to assure adequate breathing. There are alternatives in other cases, including breathing through a mask or other devices. You can meet with your anesthesiologist to discuss other alternatives which may be applicable to your specific situation.

What is ambulatory surgery?
Ambulatory surgery refers to any procedure or surgery where an overnight stay afterwards is not required. This is also called outpatient or same day surgery. This allows a patient to return home quickly and complete his or her recovery in comfortable and familiar surroundings. It has been proven to be a safe and cost-effective method that has a high satisfaction rate among patients.

Are there differences in anesthesia for ambulatory surgery?
There are different concerns for the anesthesiologist when presented with a patient that is scheduled to go home the same day of surgery. Short acting medications and other anesthetic techniques are administered in combination to make this possible. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will evaluate your specific medical condition and the type of surgery to determine if ambulatory surgery is appropriate for you.

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