What is Anesthesia?
The definition of “anesthesia” encompasses a combination of amnesia (lack of awareness), analgesia (pain control), and muscle relaxation. This allows a controlled environment for surgery or interventional procedures while providing the safest and most comfortable peri-operative experience possible. The primary goal of the anesthesiologist is to maintain and optimize physiological homeostasis during this time. This includes, but is not limited to, monitoring and treating pulmonary, cardiovascular, neurologic, and renal functions. Generally speaking, anesthesiologists work to provide a wide range of preoperative services, including a preoperative evaluation, intra-operative management, and postoperative management.
Different Types of Anesthesia
This type of anesthesia uses medicine to numb a small region of your body so you don’t feel pain. It is usually administered as an injection by the surgeon into the skin or area of interest. This can be applied alone or in combination with other types of anesthesia. This type of anesthesia is sometimes given alone for very minor procedures, such as biopsies.
This form of anesthesia is used to block pain in a larger area, such as a limb or the lower to upper part of the body; examples include epidural, spinal, and/or specific nerve blocks. A commonly used type at the GYN Surgical Institute is called a “spinal block.” It is primarily used for post-operative pain control and has been proven to greatly enhance patient satisfaction. It works by injecting narcotics or local anesthetic (numbing medicine) into the patient’s lower back, causing any feeling or pain to immediately cease. Regional anesthesia can also be utilized in conjunction with a general anesthetic or controlled sedation.
General anesthesia is commonly used for a variety of procedures and provides the patient with amnesia, analgesia, and muscle relaxation. It requires the anesthesiologist to place a breathing device after he/she puts the patient to sleep through the intravenous line. Anesthetic gases are then administered via the device to provide a continuous, steady state of anesthesia.
Regardless of the type of anesthetic plan, your anesthesiologist will discuss his/her plan and answer your questions prior to the procedure. The department’s goals are to provide a safe environment and to ensure excellent patient satisfaction. This is in part achieved by treating each patient as a unique individual who requires customized treatment and management. Here at the GYN Surgical Institute, you will receive top quality anesthetic care, and this has been demonstrated by our patients’ testimonies. We look forward to serving each and every one of you.
There are a lot of questions that you may have before your procedure. We have taken the time to compile a list of the most commonly asked questions to assist you in your understanding of anesthesiology. Please write down any additional questions that you may have so that you are prepared to ask these questions when your anesthesiologist calls before your procedure.
What happens during a pre-anesthesia visit with my anesthesiologist?
The pre-anesthesia visit is where you will be able to ask questions and learn about anesthesia. It is also when your anesthesiologist can perform a physical exam, review your medical records, and potentially order additional consultations and/or tests.
During this visit, your anesthesiologist may ask questions regarding:
- Your general health, including any recent changes
- Allergies to medications or other items
- Chronic (long-term) medical problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, acid reflux and sleep apnea
- Recent hospital admissions, including surgery or procedures
- Previous experiences with anesthesia, especially any problems
It is advisable to bring any documents that describe your health history as well as a list of all your medications.
At the conclusion of your visit, you should:
- Have clear instructions on when to stop eating and drinking before surgery
- Know what medications you should or should not take on the day of surgery (and sometimes even a few days leading up to surgery)
- Know what type of anesthesia will be given to you (keep in mind that things may change between the day of your pre-operative visit and your procedure that may result in modifying the anesthesia plan)
How will my anesthesiologist know how much anesthesia to give me?
Every anesthetic is specifically tailored to the individual and procedure. Individuals have different responses to anesthesia; some of these differences are genetic and some differences are due to changes in health or illness. The amount of anesthesia needed can vary according to such factors as age, gender, weight, medications being taken or specific illnesses (such as heart or brain conditions). Among the things the anesthesiologist measures and uses to guide the type and amount of anesthetic given are: blood pressure, heart rhythm and rate, breathing pattern, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and exhaled anesthetic concentration. Because every patient is unique, the anesthesiologist must carefully monitor and adjust anesthetic levels for each individual patient.
Why do I need to have an empty stomach prior to surgery?
When anesthesia is given, it is common for reflexes to relax. This condition makes it easy for stomach contents to go backwards into the esophagus (food tube), mouth, or even the windpipe and lungs. Because the stomach contains acid, if any stomach contents do get into the lungs, they can cause a serious pneumonia. Therefore, it is crucial to refrain from eating before a surgery with anesthesia.
What are the different types of sedation?
During light or moderate sedation, patients are awake and able to respond appropriately to instructions. However, during deep sedation, patients are likely to sleep through a procedure with little or no memory. Breathing slows and oxygen is often given during deep sedation. While this can seem frightening, your anesthesiologist is monitoring every breath and adjusts anesthetic levels to ensure the complete safety of each patient during the procedure.”