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    Hospital Anesthesia
    Frequently Asked Questions

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    The following are common questions about hospital anesthesia services and billing that may help you and your family prepare for a procedure. For more detailed information about the hospital anesthesia services that will be required for your specific surgery or procedure, please contact your doctor's office.

    What You Should Know About Hospital Anesthesia services

    What do I need to know about anesthesia?

    Very generally, "anesthesia" in a hospital setting includes the use of anesthetic gases, intravenous medications, "regional blocks" or topical agents to control pain and movement during a surgery or procedure. The appropriate type of anesthesia required for your surgery or procedure will be determined in consultation with the physician performing your surgery or procedure and your anesthesia doctor (anesthesiologist). Some of the broad categories of anesthesia are described below. If you have any questions at all about anesthesia, you should consult directly with the physician performing your procedure or your anesthesiologist.

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    What is general anesthesia? What are the other types of anesthesia?

    There are three main categories of anesthesia: general, regional and local.

    • General anesthesia: induces total loss of consciousness and lack of ability to feel pain. Under general anesthesia, you will be unaware during your surgery or procedure, you won’t feel pain, and you may not remember anything that happened. In nearly all cases, general anesthesia requires a combination of medications administered intravenously and gases (including oxygen) that are administered through a breathing tube placed by the anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist uses anesthesia equipment, monitors, and instruments to monitor and manage your vital signs continuously throughout the time you are under general anesthesia and until you safely recover.
    • Regional anesthesia: blocks pain to a large part or region of your body. Regional anesthetic techniques include spinal, epidural and arm and leg blocks. With regional anesthesia, your anesthesiologist injects medication near a cluster of nerves to numb only the area of your body that requires surgery. Medication may also be provided to help you relax or sleep during the procedure ("sedation").

      Some surgeries are performed using both general and regional anesthesia, while others can be accomplished with regional anesthesia along with sedation. Regional anesthesia together with deep or moderate sedation administered by an anesthesiologist or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, or deep or moderate sedation alone administered by an anesthesiologist or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, are referred to as "Monitored Anesthesia Care." The Monitored Anesthesia Care service utilizes most of the same equipment and monitors, and some of the same instruments and supplies, as general anesthesia.

      When there is no anesthesiologist or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist administering moderate or light sedatation, and the patient is monitored continuously by a nurse or other staff person with special competency to monitor patients under sedation, the service is referred to as "Conscious Sedation." Again, you should discuss the options regarding which type of anesthesia is most appropriate with the physician performing the procedure and your anesthesiologist.
    • Local anesthesia: provides numbness to a very limited "local area" of the body for minor procedures and is often injected by your surgeon. In most circumstances, an anesthesiologist will not be present, unless your physical condition warrants close monitoring.

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    May I choose my anesthesiologist?

    In most cases you may choose your anesthesiologist. Let the physician performing the procedure know in advance that you would like to choose your anesthesiologist so that arrangements can be made. While we will do our best to honor requests, this may not be possible in every case.

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    May I request the type of anesthesia I will receive?

    Yes, but the final selection depends on the type of surgery or procedure you are having, your medical condition, and prudent medical judgment. The type of anesthesia used during a procedure depends on several factors including your past and current health, the type of surgery or procedure, and the results of your pre-surgery test(s). Discuss your options with the doctor performing your procedure and your anesthesiologist. In an emergency, it is often not possible to select the type of anesthesia you will receive.

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    Is anesthesia only provided in the operating room?

    No. Sutter hospitals provide anesthesia services in many areas including, but not limited to:

    • Inpatient and outpatient operating rooms
    • Obstetrical and gynecological rooms
    • Radiology department
    • Clinics
    • Emergency department
    • Psychiatry department
    • Special procedures areas (e.g., endoscopy suite, pain management clinic, etc.)

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    Health Library: More on Anesthesia

    If you have additional information about the clinical aspects of anesthesia, you should contact your doctor or anesthesiologist. You may also read more general information on anesthesia in our Health Information Library:
    Anesthesia - topic overview
    General Anesthesia - overview
    How Can I Relax Myself Before Anesthesia?
    Anesthesia Health Risks
    Monitoring During Anesthesia

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    Related Hospital Anesthesia Information

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