Anesthesia FAQ

Ease your mind as you prepare for anesthesiology by reading our answers to common questions.

Young patient leaving recovery room with mother and anesthesiologist.

We offer this information to help you prepare you for your upcoming procedure. We encourage you to discuss your specific questions with your OAG anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist when planning your care.

Basic guidelines include:

  • Adhere to pre-operative fasting and medication instructions
  • Stop smoking, if you can – even taking a break for a week before your procedure can make a difference
  • Have a home recovery plan in place – including a responsible adult to take you home

Our interest in your health and well-being starts before your procedure. This is when we learn about you and your unique situation to create a personalized anesthesia care plan. Depending on your situation, this conversation may start with a phone consultation before the procedure date or a same day consultation before your procedure begins.

Your OAG anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will make sure that all medical issues have been appropriately addressed to minimize the risk of undergoing a procedure. This includes asking about your medical history, current medical conditions and medications, and about your family medical history. Then, we will talk you through a personalized anesthesia care plan and provide an opportunity for you to ask questions.

Though it might be uncomfortable, fasting is a medically important precaution. Anesthesia may dull natural protective reflexes which could cause food in your stomach to come up and get into your lungs. This process is called aspiration, and it can lead to pulmonary inflammation, infection, and a prolonged hospital stay. We will talk with you about the best individual fasting strategy for your situation.

Many medications are compatible with anesthesia, but there are important exceptions. It is important to discuss the types of medications and dietary supplements you take with your anesthesiologist before your procedure. If you have concerns, we can help.

Will my OAG provider be with me the entire time I’m asleep?

Yes. We act as your medical advocate while you are having your procedure. In addition to delivering anesthesia, we will closely monitor, evaluate and regulate your vital signs during the procedure.

Although very rare, there have been cases when a patient partially wakes up during general anesthesia. Since the phenomenon happens so infrequently, the causes are difficult for researchers to study. If you have any concerns regarding intraoperative awareness, we are happy to discuss this with you.

Fortunately, we are able to prevent nausea and vomiting after anesthesia and surgery in more patients than ever due to advances in medication. However, this can still be a side effect for some patients. We can talk with you about your individual situation and our plan to keep you as comfortable as possible.

General anesthesia often requires the placement of a tube in the windpipe. The presence of this tube can cause temporary throat soreness. Usually, symptomatic treatment is all that is necessary.

Yes. Your anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will accompany you to the recovery room. They will provide a detailed report to your recovery room nurse, and will remain available to support your successful discharge from the recovery room.

Where can I get additional information?

American Society of Anesthesiologists

Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation

American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology

Because each patient is unique, your OAG anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will create an anesthetic plan specific to your needs. We take into account many pieces of information including past and current health, family history, previous surgeries, health issues and allergies, the type and length of the procedure, and various laboratory test results. If you have questions or preferences, we welcome discussing these with you before your procedure.

Monitored anesthesia care (MAC) refers to a set of patient services, not a particular level of sedation. These services are administered prior to the procedure, during the procedure, and in the recovery room.

Surgeons and proceduralists may request MAC services for their patients when the patient most likely will not require general anesthesia, but they want to have the flexibility for the sedation plan to change, according to the needs of the patient. Choosing MAC allows the surgeon or proceduralist to focus exclusively on performing the procedure.

During the procedure, the anesthesia provider is there to focus continuously on the patient’s oxygenation, ventilation, circulation and temperature. If, during a procedure, it is determined that a patient needs some form of sedation, the anesthesia provider is immediately available to administer sedation and/or analgesia (pain medication) and continue to monitor how the patient is responding to these medications. They also have the medical expertise to intervene if a patient’s airway becomes compromised, if there is an adverse reaction to the sedative or if a conversion to general anesthesia is required.

MAC patient services start before the procedure with a preoperative evaluation, continue in the procedure room or OR and after the procedure as the anesthesia provider assures that the patient returns to baseline consciousness, has a pain control plan, and is ready to be safely discharged from the recovery area. This care is delivered regardless of the level of sedation that is ultimately provided.

Your OAG anesthesia care plan will include much more than knowledgeably using anesthetics to block pain. Our journey together starts with a consultation before your procedure and continues until you have safely recovered from anesthesia.

In our consultation, we will make sure that all medical issues have been appropriately addressed to minimize the risk of undergoing a procedure. This will take place before your procedure, often by phone the night before, and during a brief exam just before your procedure. We may also collaborate with other specialists who have participated in your care to finalize your individualized anesthesia plan.

During your procedure, we will be at your side the entire time you are under anesthesia. We will vigilantly monitor your vital life functions and your responses to both the anesthetic and the procedure itself. The use of advanced technology will help us to appropriately regulate your body's organ systems while we carefully administer anesthetic medications.

Indeed, your OAG anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will act as your medical advocate during your procedure which includes immediately diagnosing and treating any medical conditions that might arise.

Monitoring your health and well-being continues in the recovery room as you transition out of the effects of the anesthetics.

Anesthetics are the medicines used to block pain. OAG anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetist draw upon many types of anesthetics and delivery techniques to develop a patient’s unique anesthetic plan. Anesthesia can be categorized in three main types: local, regional, and general.

Intravenous sedation with local anesthetic: This approach makes the patient drowsy while an anesthetic drug is injected to numb a small, specific area of the body.

Regional anesthesia: This approach numbs a larger area of the body. Two main types are:

  • Peripheral nerve blocks: This type of block targets a specific nerve or group of nerves most commonly for procedures on hands, arms, feet, legs or face.
  • Epidural or spinal anesthesia: This is an injection that blocks pain for a large area of the body such as the abdomen, hips or legs.

Regional and general anesthesia are often combined.

General anesthesia: A combination of anesthetics is used to make you deeply asleep and unaware. The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist carefully monitors and controls your treatment during general anesthesia. The depth and duration of anesthesia is calculated and constantly adjusted with great precision.

An anesthesiologist is a physician who has chosen anesthesiology as their specialty, in a similar way as your internist, pediatrician, or surgeon chose their specialty.

Your OAG anesthesiologist is Board Certified or Board Eligible in anesthesia. This means we are doctors who have completed four years of college, four years of medical school, and up to six years of residency and fellowship training after medical school.

Anesthesiologists practice one of the most complex medical specialties. This means our OAG physicians command a wide breadth of medical knowledge about the systems of the human body, about surgical procedures, about drugs and how they act upon the body, and about the physiological changes that might take place during a procedure.

CRNAs are advanced practice registered nurses with specialized graduate-level education. Also called a nurse anesthetist, your CRNA works under the direction of an anesthesiologist. Together they make up your anesthesia care team.

If you don’t find answers to your medical questions here, please ask your anesthesiologist during your pre-operative consultation.
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