The following are common questions and answers about anesthesia services that may help you and your family prepare for a procedure. For more detailed information about the anesthesia services that will be required for your specific surgery or procedure, please contact your doctor.
What are the side effects of anesthesia?
The most common side effects of anesthesia are nausea, sore throat and headache. Children are often disoriented and may be temporarily delirious in the recovery room when they wake up. With spinal and epidural anesthetics, temporary difficulty with urination is common. Some pain medications may cause itching and nausea. These are common and temporary conditions.
When do I meet my anesthesiologist?
Your anesthesiologist will talk with you and examine you in a preoperative room or area. At that time, the anesthesiologist will be happy to answer any questions you or your family may have.
May I choose my anesthesiologist?
In most cases you may choose your anesthesiologist. Let the physician performing your procedure know in advance that you would like to choose your anesthesiologist. While we will do our best to honor your request, it may not be possible in every case.
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 and the results of your pre-surgery tests. You can 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.
What are the risks of anesthesia?
With the extensive knowledge and training of anesthesiologists and sophisticated monitoring equipment, anesthesia is safer today than ever before. Serious and potentially fatal complications are very rare. However, your specific risk depends on the type of surgery and your overall health. If you have questions about your specific risks, please contact your anesthesiologist.
Why do I need to fast the night before surgery?
The general guideline is: Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. Be sure to follow your doctor's specific instructions about avoiding food and drink before surgery. Your stomach must be empty for surgery because of the small risk of stomach contents injuring the lungs during the procedure. An empty stomach reduces this potentially life-threatening risk. For your safety, your surgery may be postponed if you eat or drink after midnight (unless your doctor directs you to do so).
What should I do if I have a pacemaker?
Please bring any information regarding your pacemaker into the operating room. The type of pacemaker and the last time it was checked are very important. If you can, ask your cardiologist or pacemaker technician what the "magnet mode" is for your pacemaker.
Should I take my regular medications?
If you are taking medications, consult your doctor or anesthesiologist about whether to take them before surgery. Depending on your particular condition, your anesthesiologist may have adjustments to the medication orders.
Where will I go after surgery?
You will be watched closely in the recovery room until your anesthesiologist and nurse feel you are stable enough to go either transfer to a regular hospital room or go home. For some surgeries, you may go directly from the operating room to the intensive care unit.
Can I have visitors in the recovery room?
In general, visitors are not allowed in the recovery room. Children may have a limited number of visitors in the recovery-room after the nurse has made sure everything is stable.
Is anesthesia only provided in the operating room?
No. Sutter care centers provide anesthesia services in many areas including, but not limited to:
- Inpatient and outpatient operating rooms
- Obstetrical and gynecological rooms
- Radiology Department
- Emergency Department
- Psychiatry Department
- Special procedure areas (e.g., endoscopy suite, pain management clinic, etc.)
When was anesthesia first developed?
What eventually evolved into anesthesia as we know it today was ushered in with the chance observation that the inhalation of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, produced a state of intoxication during which people became insensitive to pain. In 1842, Dr. Crawford Long of Georgia used ether to perform the first painless surgery. Dr. Horace Wells demonstrated painless dentistry under nitrous oxide in 1844. In 1846, Dr. William Morton astonished doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital when he achieved anesthesia with ether. Read more about the history of anesthesia.