Now that you and your surgeon have decided on surgery, let’s discuss your anesthesia. Our priority is your comfort and safety, during and after your procedure. We will be at your side throughout your surgery. We encourage you to ask questions when we meet.  

What is anesthesiology? 

A medical specialty focused on the safe management of anxiety and pain during surgical procedures. Types of anesthesia can range from  

  • MONITORED ANESTHESIA CARE: Monitored intravenous sedation typically used for minor, shorter, less complex surgical procedures where injection of a local anesthetic is not sufficient but deeper general anesthesia is also not necessary. Depending on the surgical procedure, the level of monitored sedation may be minimal (you will feel drowsy but able to talk) to deep (you probably will not recall the procedure during heavy sleep). The surgeon frequently uses a local anesthetic to minimize or eliminate discomfort while receiving monitored intravenous sedation. 
  • REGIONAL anesthesia: A specific body area is made numb with the injection of a local anesthetic (e.g. epidural, spinal, nerve block). 
  • GENERAL anesthesia (when a patient is unconscious and pain free during surgical procedures). A tube may be placed in your throat once unconscious to help you breathe. 

How will I feel after anesthesia? 

It varies. Some patients feel fine as they wake up. Others may experience symptoms such as shivering, drowsiness, nausea and/or vomiting. If you are prone to motion sickness or postoperative nausea/vomiting, please make sure you inform your anesthesia team before surgery so that they can take steps to minimize the likelihood of that side effect. 

Will I get a sore throat after general anesthesia? 

Your throat may be sore from the breathing tube. Soreness is not directly related to how gently the tube is placed and may arise even after easy and uneventful tube placements. Inform your anesthesia team if you have a sensitive throat and are concerned. 

Why must I fast after midnight before my scheduled procedure? 

You may be instructed to not eat or drink anything after midnight before your scheduled procedure. Aspiration is a rare risk of food or liquid in your stomach getting into your lungs while you are under anesthesia. We want to minimize this risk. Talk to your anesthesia providers for guidance. You may be told to take your regular medications with a sip of water on the day pf your procedure. It is extremely important that you adhere to given preoperative instructions.  

Can I drive myself home after anesthesia? 

No! Make sure someone can take you home safely or your surgery will be cancelled. It may take a day or longer for the anesthesia medications to completely leave your system, so we advise patients that they should not operate any heavy machinery or sign any legal documents for at least 24 hours after their anesthetic has been completed; you may be sleepy and your reflexes and judgement may be affected. The same may be true for postoperative medications. We recommend that you consult with your surgeon regarding activity limitations related to the postoperative pain medication they prescribe.  

What is the best way to prepare for anesthesia? 

Learn about your procedure and the type of anesthesia used. Discuss your medical history and lifestyle habits. This information will help the anesthesia team know how you might react to anesthesia and will allow them to take steps to lower your risks of side effects. Write down all your questions and discuss them when you meet your anesthesia team. Lastly, please bring a list of medications you take complete with their names, schedule of administration and last dose taken when you come for your preoperative visit and on the day of surgery.  

For more information, visit https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/anesthesia-101/