Prior to your procedure, you will likely be sent to PreCare for your preoperative preparation. You may or may not be seen by a member of the anesthesia department at this time. With this in mind, we would like to briefly explain what you can expect to happen on the day of your procedure.
You will be interviewed by many different people before actually going to the operating room; this will include the pre-procedural nurses, members of the surgery team, and members of the anesthesia team. You may be asked the same questions by each person. This can be frustrating, but please realize it is a safety factor; it is much less likely that incorrect information will be obtained this way. Remember to bring a list of all your allergies and medications (with the doses you take) with you whenever you come to the hospital.
Options for Anesthesia
You and your anesthesia team will then discuss your options for anesthesia. Simply stated, there are two choices: general anesthesia (completely asleep), and varying degrees of awareness with the operative site numb. Obviously, there are some procedures that require a specific type of anesthesia, but there are some situations where you may be able to choose. Your anesthesiologist may feel strongly about one option over another, and this will be based on your safety and comfort as well as other circumstances unique to your situation.
General anesthesia means that you will be given medication to make you completely unconscious (asleep) and to keep you that way until your procedure is over. This usually requires that a breathing tube be placed. If so, this is usually done after you are unconscious, and is removed prior to you regaining awareness. Since nothing can be guaranteed in medicine, there are situations where this plan may need to be altered, and your anesthesiologist will discuss this possibility with you.
The other option is to make the surgical site numb, and then you and your anesthesia team can discuss how aware or unaware you would like to be. Keep in mind however, that the plan may be altered as the procedure goes along, and that it is still possible that you may require general anesthesia. Again, this decision would be based on your safety and comfort. There are different ways of making the surgical site numb, and once again, some procedures require a specific plan. Your anesthesia team will discuss the risks and benefits of the available options with you.
At the end of your procedure, you will be taken to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (recovery room), where you will be monitored until it is safe to allow you to leave.