St. Mary's makes provision for anesthesia around the clock, 365 days a year.
Anesthesiologists are physicians who have had at least four years of specialized post graduate training after medical school. Their education consists of in-depth knowledge in the broad field of medicine which prepares them for their critical responsibilities in the operating room. Anesthesiologists are involved in post-operative recovery, intensive care, cardiac resuscitation, pain treatment and respiratory therapy. However, the primary role continues to be that of caring for our patient's needs during the surgical experience.
Types of Anesthesia
The Four Broad categories of surgical anesthesia are:
The injection of medication into a vein to bring about a state of sleep. This may be followed by other intravenous medication and by agents you breathe in. Sometimes we assist your breathing by placing a tube in your windpipe while you are asleep to control your breathing and the delivery of anesthetic agents.
The injection of a medication around a nerve so that a specific part of your body becomes numb. Although you remain conscious, we can relax you by injecting medication into a vein. You may feel drowsy or even doze during the procedure. One type of a regional anesthetic is a "spinal" anesthesia. In a "spinal" anesthesia, medication is injected into your spinal fluid to numb the surgical site.
Monitored anesthesia care
The injection of medication into the skin around the surgical site. The local anesthetic may be given by your surgeon. If an anesthesiologist is present in the operating room, it is because your surgeon has asked that anesthesia be there to assure your comfort and to monitor your vital signs throughout the entire surgical procedure.
The Pre-Operative Visit
Since anesthesia and surgery affect body functions, it is necessary for the anesthesiologist to learn something about you. Each patient and each anesthetic are different. We want to make the "perfect match". For this reason the anesthesiologist will meet with you prior to your surgery. During this visit your medical record and laboratory data are reviewed with you. This may be done at your outpatient teaching visit or the morning of surgery.
This is an excellent time for you to ask questions about your anesthetic and about our procedures. Please bring up anything that is puzzling or worrying you. If you prefer a certain type of anesthetic, for example, let us know. If possible, we will try to accommodate you. It is important that you feel comfortable about the choices being made. The members of the surgical team want your surgical experience to be as safe and comfortable as possible.
Choosing Your Anesthetic
Selecting the most appropriate anesthetic for you depends on a variety of things such as:
- The type of operation to be performed
- How long the operation is expected to last
- Special requirements of the surgeon
- Your condition and medical history, including any medicines you are taking
- Your preferences
Before Your Surgery
- It is very important that you do not eat any food or drink any liquids (including water) from midnight the night before your surgery unless you have received different instructions from your doctor. Also, unless your physician has indicated otherwise, be sure to take all medications prescribed with sips of water. (This is so that your stomach will be empty prior to the beginning of anesthesia.)
- Write down and bring the name and dosage of each medication you are taking.
- We urge you to stop smoking cigarettes at least three weeks prior to surgery.
- If you develop any acute infection (a cold, bronchitis, fever, the flu, or any other respiratory infection), be sure to notify your surgeon. He may want to postpone your surgery.
During Your Surgery
During your surgery, your vital signs will be monitored. These include breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature and strength of your heart. We continually manage your entire environment and attend to your basic needs on a minute to minute basis.
After Your Surgery
When surgery is finished, you may be taken to the recovery room. This room is where you remain monitored by the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) nurses until you regain consciousness and are in a stable condition.
The development of knowledge, technology and medication has made modern anesthesia techniques very safe. In general, the healthier the patient, the lower the risk. The task of the anesthesiologist is to use the safest form of anesthetic compatible with good surgical conditions, and we assure you that this is a task we take extremely seriously. Your safety is our number one priority.
There can be side effects from anesthesia. You may experience:
- A sore throat for a day or two
- Muscle aches and pains for 12-24 hours
- Nausea and vomiting following surgery
- Redness or sore spots on your face or jaw
- A headache from a spinal anesthetic
- Soreness in your mouth, dental irritation