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    Hospital Anesthesia: Before, During and After Your Surgery

    Before Your Procedure

    During Your Procedure

    After Your Procedure

    I have concerns. May I talk with my anesthesiologist before my procedure?

    Yes. If you have asked to consult with your anesthesiologist, you can arrange a consultation prior to your hospitalization. Otherwise, you will likely meet your anesthesiologist during a pre-anesthesia interview, usually just prior to your surgery or procedure. Your anesthesiologist will ask questions about your medical history, current medical condition, allergies and medications and answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to ask any questions or share any concerns you may have with your anesthesiologist – we want you to be informed and comfortable.

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    How will I be evaluated before my procedure?

    Both the doctor performing your procedure, as well as your anesthesiologist, will need a thorough medical history and physical exam. At that time, you will discuss your medical history, current medical condition, allergies and any medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins or herbal supplements. Your anesthesiologist will need to know if you have significant medical problems in order to recommend the safest possible anesthetic management. If you or a blood relative ever had a problem related to anesthesia or surgery, please let your anesthesiologist know.

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    Can I eat or drink before my procedure?

    For your safety, your stomach must be empty before you have surgery and anesthesia. An empty stomach significantly decreases the chance of stomach contents entering your lungs while under anesthesia. This is called "aspiration," a rare but serious complication of general anesthesia and regional anesthesia. In emergencies, doctors can take special precautions to reduce the risk of aspiration. However, to provide the safest possible care, providers will cancel elective procedures if fasting guidelines are not followed. These guidelines apply to any procedure that requires anesthesia.

    You can protect yourself from aspiration by carefully following preoperative instructions regarding food and drink. In general, your doctor, nurse or anesthesiologist will instruct you to avoid eating or drinking after midnight the night before your procedure. Your doctor may permit you to have some clear liquids (any liquid you can see through) up to four hours before your procedure. You should be given specific instructions about what you may eat and drink the day before your procedure, and if you do not receive them or can’t find them, you should contact your doctor’s office to ensure that you have them.

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    Will prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements effect anesthesia?

    They might. You should discuss all medications and herbal supplements you are currently taking with your doctors. You may need to continue taking some of your medications, such as those for heart, blood pressure and breathing problems. You may need to stop taking or adjust the dose of other medicines, such as insulin, blood thinners, or aspirin-like drugs. You should also provide a list of your current or recently taken medications and supplements and their doses to your anesthesiologist for review prior to your surgery or procedure.

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    I’m a recovering addict. What should I know about anesthesia and my past addiction?

    Addiction presents unique challenges to your anesthesiology team. Depending on the procedure, your doctors may use different forms of anesthesia during your procedure. Discuss your history with your doctors so your surgical anesthetic and postoperative care plan can be designed to minimize the likelihood of problems. There are many things to consider in planning the type of anesthetic for any given procedure. Open and honest communication between you and your anesthesiologist beforehand will help minimize any potential problems afterwards and provide you the best possible care.

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    I don't have insurance. Can I apply for charity care?

    Sutter provides various forms of financial assistance, depending on your circumstances. You can find information about Sutter’s financial assistance policy posted in the emergency room, the hospital’s financial services/billing department or by visiting Community Benefit - Financial Assistance. You can also contact your hospital’s financial counseling office.

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    During Your Procedure

    How long will I be under anesthesia for my procedure?

    Several factors influence your experience, including the type of procedure, anticipated length of your procedure, your underlying medical condition and the preference of both you and your surgeon. Certain procedures, such as laparoscopic surgery or neurosurgery, require general anesthesia, while others, such as knee arthroscopy, have several anesthesia options. The most commonly-performed surgeries average less than three hours. During this time your vital signs will be regularly monitored, and changes in your condition will be evaluated and addressed appropriately.

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    After Your Procedure

    May I drive myself home?

    Typically, no. If you have received any medications that alter your level of consciousness (how awake you are), you should not drive home. Even when you feel awake, your ability to react is diminished for awhile after you awaken. Fortunately, most anesthetics in use today allow for rapid emergence from an anesthetic state, enabling many patients to go home on the same day of their surgery. This does not mean you can drive yourself home, and we generally recommend that you make arrangements for a ride home with a friend or relative.

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    What are the common side effects associated with anesthesia?

    Certain side effects are more common than others, depending on the type of anesthetic used during your surgery. Side effects of general anesthesia may include nausea/vomiting, temporary memory impairment and respiratory depression. Possible side effects of general anesthesia also include sore throat, hoarseness, headache, mouth or teeth injury, awareness under anesthesia, injury to blood vessels, temporary memory loss and aspiration possibly leading to pneumonia. For a more complete list of possible side effects and risks associated with anesthesia, you should discuss side effects and risks with your anesthesiologist.

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    How long will it take for me to recover from anesthesia?

    Multiple factors influence your recovery time. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will determine if you may go home on the same day of your surgery, or if you require additional care or monitoring in the hospital.

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    If I have a concern after my surgery or procedure when I'm home, whom should I call?

    If you feel you need immediate attention, please dial 9-1-1. Otherwise, you should contact the doctor who performed the surgery or procedure, or your primary care doctor.

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    Will I be able to see my family after my procedure?

    This answer depends on your procedure. Typically, once are you are settled in the recovery area or your room, the nurse will inform your loved ones that they can see you. If you are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Cardiac Care Unit (CCU), you are typically asked to limit the number of family and friends who visit you. Your body needs time to rest and rebuild your strength.

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