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Information About Anesthesia

Your surgeon and your anesthesia team will work with you to choose the best type of anesthesia for your surgery. We have included this description of the different forms of anesthesia so you can better understand the options available.

General Anesthesia

If you receive general anesthesia, you will be completely asleep for your entire operation. You will not feel anything and you will not be aware of anything during the surgery. This anesthesia is usually started by giving medication into an intravenous line. Once you are asleep, you will be given an anesthetic agent through a mask or a breathing tube. It is this agent that will keep you asleep until your surgery is finished. At the end of your operation, you will wake up in the recovery room. You will stay there until you are completely awake (usually one hour). A nurse will then transfer you back to the Ambulatory Care Unit for further recovery or to an inpatient room if you are staying overnight.

Local Anesthesia and Sedation

Many surgical procedures can be done with a combination of local anesthesia and intravenous sedation. This is often referred to as "Monitored Anesthesia Care" or "MAC." With this approach, the anesthesiologist will give you pain medication and sedation through an intravenous line. Once this medication is working, your surgeon will inject a local anesthetic into the area where he/she will be working. It is important to understand that with the sedative medications we now use, many patients fall asleep and do not remember anything that went on in the operating room. At the end of the operation, you may go to the recovery room until you are wide awake. Many patients, however, are able to go directly back to the Ambulatory Care Unit.

Regional Anesthesia

This type of anesthesia includes many techniques by which we can numb just one part of your body. Some examples are Spinal Anesthesia (which can be used for procedures below the waist) and IV Regional (this numbs the lower arm and is most useful for procedures on the hand and wrist). Your anesthesiologist will explain the details of the technique best-suited for your surgery. If you do receive a regional anesthetic, you will also be given an intravenous sedative so you will be asleep and comfortable while you are in the operating room.

Regardless of the type of anesthesia selected, you will be given strict instructions concerning food and drink before surgery. Usually, you will not be permitted to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. Exceptions are special medications that are ordered by your doctor or the anesthesiologist.

If you are healthy, a member of the Anesthesia Team will interview you on the day of your surgery. They will be happy to answer any of your questions about anesthesia. If you have certain health issues, a member of the department will speak with you before the day of your surgery, during a pre-screening visit.

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Ambulatory Care Unit

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