Welcome to the patient access webpage. Contained in this section, you will find information about what anesthesia is, some key tips to remember, and more information about the types of anesthesia administered. Please note, this page is not intended for the diagnosis, treatment, or otherwise used to give professional medical advise. Please consult with your anesthesiologist for any comments or concerns. This page is for educational purposes only.
Depending on the type of procedure, you may have a general anesthetic, neuraxial anesthetic, regional anesthetic, or intravenous sedation with local anesthesia. Often times, combinations of these types are used to optimize your care. Your anesthesiologist will discuss the various anesthetic and post-operative pain control options available to you during your pre-operative assessment.
General anesthesia involves placing you in a state of controlled unconsciousness for the period of the operation. This is typically achieved by a combination of both intravenous and inhalation agents.
Neuraxial anesthesia includes spinal and epidural anesthesia. These techniques involve the use of combinations of local anesthetics and often times narcotic medicines to block the nerves coming from the spinal cord. They can be used as the sole anesthetic for many procedures on the lower extremities and lower abdomen. In addition, they can be used to help provide post-operative pain relief for many procedures.
Regional anesthesia refers to numbing an area by injecting local anesthetic near major nerves. Also referred to as peripheral nerve blockade, these techniques are used to make the surgical area insensate for a limited period of time. These blocks can be performed as a single, one-time injection, or may be dosed continuously by placement of a small hollow catheter which may remain in place for several days. Depending on the type and concentration of the local anesthetic used, this may be used as the sole anesthetic along with intravenous sedation. It may also be used in combination with general anesthesia to minimize the depth of anesthesia. Regional anesthesia techniques are often very helpful in controlling post-operative pain.
Finally, for some procedures, intravenous sedation can be used in combination with local anesthesia injected near the operative site by the surgeon.
Regardless of the anesthetic type decided upon, your vital signs will be closely monitored at all times. This includes your heart rate, blood pressure, respirations, and oxygenation (referred to as oxygen saturation or pulse-oximetry). Other types of monitors may be needed, depending on your procedure and co-existing medical problems, and these will be discussed with you prior to your anesthetic.
To ensure that your recovery is as smooth and trouble-free as possible, I will continue to monitor your condition in the recovery area. More pain medication will be administered if you are not comfortable, and maybe continued in the ward.
Relatively common side effects are feeling drowsy, dizziness, sore throat, blurred vision and mild nausea. These are temporary and usually pass quickly. Please contact me if you have worrying after effects.
If you are having day surgery, make sure there is someone to accompany you home. It is not wise to drive, make important decisions, use any dangerous equipment, sign legal documents or drink alcohol on the day of surgery. A prescription for strong pain killers will be given to you if you undergo a painful procedure.
Risks & Complications
As stated previously, the risks of anesthesia are very low. Some patients are, however, at increased risk of complications due to their health status and type of surgery they are undergoing.
Infrequent complications include: bruising at the injection site, temporary breathing difficulties such as asthma, muscle pains, headaches, damage to teeth and dental prostheses, lip and tongue injury, temporary voice changes and temporary nerve injury. Waking up in the middle of an operation (more likely during emergency surgery or Caesarean section) is very unusual.
There can also be some very rare and serious complications including: seizures, heart attack, stroke, severe allergic reactions. liver or kidney failure, lung damage such as pneumonia, paraplegia or quadriplegia, damage to voice box, infection from blood transfusion and permanent nerve injury from epidural injections. The possibility of death is remote but does exist. For healthy patients the risk of death is approximately 1/200,000.