Whether you have questions about when to stop eating or drinking, or about hospital anesthesia in general, you can find everything you need to become well informed in the links below.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Are there different kinds of anesthesia?
There are three main type of anesthesia: local, regional, and general. Each has many forms and uses.
If local anesthesia is necessary, the anesthetic drug is usually injected into the tissue to numb just the specific location of your body requiring minor surgery, for example, the hand or foot.
Regional anesthesia involves an injection near a cluster of nerves to numb the area of your body that requires surgery. You may remain awake, or you may be given a sedative. You do not see or feel the actual surgery take place. There are several kinds of regional anesthesia. Two of the most frequently used are spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia, which are produced by injections made with great exactness in the appropriate areas of the back. They are frequently preferred for childbirth and prostate surgery.
General anesthesia renders the patient unconscious. You will have no awareness or other sensations. There are a number of general anesthetic drugs. Some are gases or vapors inhaled through a breathing mask or tube and others are medications introduced through a vein. During anesthesia, you are carefully monitored, controlled and treated by your anesthesiologist, who uses sophisticated equipment to track all your major bodily functions. A breathing tube may be inserted through your mouth and frequently into the windpipe to maintain proper breathing during this period. The length and level of anesthesia is calculated and constantly adjusted with great precision. At the conclusion of surgery, your anesthesiologist will reverse the process and you will regain awareness in the recovery room.
What are the risks of anesthesia?
All operations and all anesthesia have some risks, and they are dependent upon many factors including the type of surgery and the medical condition of the patient. Fortunately, adverse events are very rare. Your anesthesiologist takes precautions to prevent an accident from occurring just as you do when driving a car or crossing the street.
The specific risks of hospital anesthesia vary with the particular procedure and the condition of the patient. You should ask your anesthesiologist about any risks that may be associated with your anesthesia.
What about eating or drinking before my anesthesia?
As a general rule, you should not eat or drink anything after midnight before your surgery. In certain cases, you may be given permission by your anesthesiologist to drink clear liquids (up to a few hours before your anesthesia).
Should I take my usual medicines?
Some medications should be taken and others should not. It is important to discuss this with your anesthesiologist. Do not interrupt medications unless your anesthesiologist or surgeon recommends it.
Could herbal medicines and other dietary supplements affect my anesthesia if I need surgery?
Anesthesiologists are conducting research to determine exactly how certain herbs and dietary supplements interact with certain anesthetics. They are finding that certain herbal medicines may prolong the effects of anesthesia. Others may increase the risks of bleeding or raise blood pressure. Some effects may be subtle and less critical, but for anesthesiologists, anticipating a possible reaction is better than reacting to an unexpected condition. So it is very important to tell your doctor about everything you take before surgery.
What makes office-based anesthesia different?
There is one fundamental and very important difference between office-based anesthesia and hospital anesthesia / ambulatory surgical center anesthesia. The strict, well-defined standards and regulations that keep surgery and hospital anesthesia / ambulatory surgical center anesthesia very safe do not uniformly apply to physicians offices in the United States.
How is an epidural block performed for labor and delivery?
An epidural block is given in the lower back. It is administered while the patient is sitting up or lying on the side. The block is administered below the level of the spinal cord. The anesthesiologist will use a local anesthesia to numb an area of your lower back. A special needle is placed in the epidural space just outside the spinal sac.
Should I stop smoking before my surgery?
The bottom line is quit smoking now. Your surgery represents a golden opportunity to do so. There is evidence that smokers who quit at or before surgery, experience fewer symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and are more likely to succeed in their attempt to stop smoking long term.
The information included above was cited from a variety of sources, many of which appear in the links above.