Anesthesia services are provided by U.S. Anesthesia Partners of Maryland, the same group of doctors that provide anesthesia at our local hospital.
What is anesthesia?
Anesthesia is the loss of sensation or consciousness created by the administration of medications by a doctor specially trained in this process. While under the influence of anesthesia, patient’s vital functions are constantly monitored and adjusted with medication as needed. Anesthesia is used to relax (sedate) you, block pain sensations (analgesia and anesthesia), induce sleepiness and forgetfulness (amnesia) or make you unconscious for your surgery. The anesthetic option chosen for your individual procedure will be based on your physical condition in collaboration with your surgeon. According to a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine, anesthesia care today is nearly 50 times safer than it was 20 years ago.
Preparing for anesthesia:
A nurse from the Surgery Center will contact you approximately 1 week before your surgery to perform a brief interview and answer your questions. You will not receive the call regarding your arrival time until the day before your surgery. You will be given instruction about when to stop eating or drinking, what medications to take on the day of surgery, and what time to arrive at the facility.
You will need to give written consent for surgery, and anesthesia, as well as to receive other necessary medications. Your surgeon will explain why your surgery is needed, what it will involve, its risks and expected outcome, and how long it will take you to recover. Your anesthesiologist will have the same discussion with you about your anesthesia care.
Who administers anesthesia?
Anesthesia services at our facility are provided by U.S. Anesthesia Partners of Maryland. One of U.S. Anesthesia Partners of Maryland anesthesiologist stays with you for the procedure, monitoring important functions of your body and individually modifying your anesthetic for your safety and comfort.
Recovering from anesthesia:
Immediately after surgery, you will be taken to a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), often called the recovery room, where nurses will observe and assist in your immediate recovery. A nurse will check your vital signs, bandages and ask about your discomfort level. Some effects of anesthesia may persist for many hours after the procedure. You may have some numbness or reduced sensation in the part of your body that was anesthetized with local or regional anesthesia.
Other common side effects of anesthesia are closely monitored and managed to decrease your discomfort. These side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting. In most cases, nausea after anesthesia can be treated and does not last long.
- A mild drop in body temperature (hypothermia). You may feel cold and shiver when you are waking up.
- A responsible adult must drive you home and remain with you until the effects of anesthesia have subsided, usually within 24 hours.
- You will remain sleepy so plan to rest. In most cases you can resume activity in a few days.
- Plan a light meal for after your surgery such as soup and saltines. You will start with liquids at the surgery center.
- You may receive a prescription for medication to relieve incisional discomfort. Take any medication with a light snack.
- Follow the instructions provided by your Surgeon. These will be reviewed with you and your caregiver by your nurse at the surgical center.
- A member of our nursing staff will call you after your surgery to review your progress but you may contact your surgeon’s office for any major concerns you may have prior to this call.
Each patient should be given his or her own instructions. Please note that if you eat or drink when you were not supposed to, your anesthesiologist may recommend that your surgery be cancelled and rescheduled. Please follow your instructions very carefully. See sections on Anesthesia Frequently Asked Questions and preparing for Surgery.
Some medications should be taken and others should not. It is important to discuss this with your physicians. Please bring all your medications with you on the day of surgery.
You must make arrangements for a responsible adult to take you home after your surgery. You will not be able to drive yourself home. You may not be alone the first 24 hours.
Many patients are apprehensive about anesthesia and surgery. If you are well informed, you will be better prepared and more relaxed. Talk with your anesthesiologist and ask questions. Your anesthesiologist is your advocate and is experienced in making your surgery and recovery as safe and comfortable as possible.
What to expect
Your anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will interview you prior to the procedure. This usually takes place on the day of surgery, but for special reasons some interviews will be initiated before the day of surgery. The anesthesiologist will ask questions about your medical history and review any laboratory tests that have been done. You and your anesthesiologist together will then formulate an anesthetic plan. You will discuss anesthetic choices including risks and benefits. The anesthetic plan will be tailored specifically for you by taking into account your general medical condition, the type of surgical procedure and your preferences. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss any concerns that you may have with your anesthesiologist.
In the Operating Room
In the operating room, your anesthesiologist is uniquely qualified and personally responsible for directing your anesthetic. Anesthesiologists are medical specialists who ensure your comfort and make informed medical decisions to protect you. Your physical status is closely monitored. Vital functions such as heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, temperature and breathing are managed. A member of the anesthesia care team will be with you throughout your procedure.
Recovery After Surgery
You will be taken to the post-anesthetic care unit, often called the recovery room. Your anesthesiologist will direct the monitoring and medications to ensure your safe recovery. Your vital functions will be closely monitored by specially trained nurses. Medications to minimize postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting are given as needed. Nausea and vomiting tend to be less of a problem today because of improved anesthetic agents and techniques although it still occurs quite often. When you are ready, you will be offered something to drink. A family member or friend may be allowed to be with you, and you will be assisted in getting up. Most patients are ready to go home between 1-2 hours after surgery. Oral and written instructions will be given. You will also be given a telephone number to call if you have any concerns when you get home. In general, for the first 24 hours after your anesthesia:
- Do not drink alcohol or use nonprescription medication
- Do not drive a car or operate dangerous machinery
- Do not make important decisions
- You may not be left alone that first day
Be prepared to go home and continue your recovery there. Patients may experience drowsiness or minor side effects such as muscle aches, sore throat, headaches and mild nausea. These usually decline rapidly in the hours following surgery. Most patients do not feel up to their usual activities the next day. Plan to take it easy for a few days. The following day you will be contacted to see how you feel and if there are any problems.