Understanding Your Anesthesia
What is Anesthesia? Anesthesia is medicine that gets you safely through your operation or procedure. It is given by members of your anesthesia team, who closely watch your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level. The medications can make you feel relaxed, sleepy, forgetful, and reduced pain. Not all surgeries or procedures require you to be completely asleep. The anesthesia plan is customized to each patient. Your anesthesia team will discuss the options with you on the day of surgery, and together you will choose a plan that keeps you safe and comfortable.
There are three main types of anesthesia:
- General Anesthesia (Going to sleep)
General anesthesia is medicine that will make you go to sleep and make you unaware of your surgery. It is given through your vein (IV) or by breathing it into your lungs. While you are asleep, an airway device such as a breathing tube is placed by your anesthesia team.
- Monitored Anesthesia Care (Sedation)
Monitored anesthesia is medicine given through an IV that makes you sleepy and relaxed, but not always fully asleep. Often, you may fall asleep and not remember the surgery, but sometimes you might remember hearing or seeing events. Extra medicine, like Novocain, is used to numb the area of the surgery so you will not feel pain.
- Regional Anesthesia (Epidural, Spinal, or Nerve Block)
Regional anesthesia is a special medicine that is used to block pain to a larger part of your body (arm, leg, chest, or abdomen). The main types of regional anesthesia are:
- Epidural – This is an injection of numbing medicine in your back, near the spinal cord. It works by numbing the large nerves that give feeling to the chest wall, abdomen or legs. This will decrease pain or feeling to the body part on which you are having surgery. A small plastic tube, called a catheter, which is the thickness of a fishing line, is also placed into this space. Numbing medicine is pumped into the catheter for several days after the surgery to decrease pain. An epidural is often placed before going into the operating room with mild relaxing medicine.
- Spinal Injection – This is an injection of numbing medication in your back, below your spinal cord into the spinal fluid. The medicine quickly decreases all feelings to your legs and abdomen. Often, you will also get sedation or general anesthesia in addition to the spinal for the surgery. The numb feeling in your legs will go away after your surgery.
- Nerve Block – This is medicine injected near a smaller (peripheral) nerve that numbs the body part. It may make that body part feel like it is “asleep” and you will not be able to move or feel it at all. Other times, you will have muscle strength in the area where you have the nerve block. Nerve blocks can be a single injection that lasts for several hours. Also, a nerve catheter can be placed that allows medicine to numb the area for several days. Depending on the type of surgery and your medical history, you may receive a nerve block before or after surgery.
Who is on my Anesthesia Team?
Your anesthesia team will always have an Anesthesiologist, a doctor specially trained to administer anesthesia. Your anesthesia team may also contain:
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – Advanced practice nurse specializing in anesthesia
- Anesthesia Resident – Doctor training to become an anesthesiologist
- Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist – Critical care nurse training to become a CRNA
What should I expect on the day of surgery?
You will arrive in the admission area where someone will check you in and bring you to the pre-operative holding area. A nurse will review your medical information and start an intravenous (IV). You will then meet a member of your anesthesia team who will discuss your anesthetic plan and answer any questions.
When will I receive anesthesia?
We understand that having surgery can be scary and that you may be nervous about your procedure or anesthetic. It is completely normal to feel anxious, and we will do all we can to help reduce it. Before you receive any anesthesia, it is important to be seen by your preoperative nurse and an anesthesia team member. Depending on your procedure and medical history, you may receive sedation or regional anesthesia in the preoperative holding area before your surgery. If you do, you will be monitored by an anesthesia team member or a preoperative nurse until you go into the operating room.
What happens when it is time for my surgery or procedure?
A member of the anesthesia team will bring you into the operating room. Depending on your health and surgery type, you may walk into the operating room or you may be pushed in a wheelchair or stretcher.
Upon arrival in the operating room, the nursing team will introduce themselves and do a safety check to confirm your name, date of birth, and procedure. The anesthesia team will place monitors that include a blood pressure cuff, EKG stickers on your chest, and a pulse-oximeter sticker on your finger that measures your oxygen level.
You will be given an oxygen mask and medication through your IV to make you sleepy or completely fall asleep, depending on the type of anesthesia you receive. Your anesthesia team member will give you IV medications to prevent nausea and control pain while you are asleep.
At the end of your surgery, when you are waking up, if you have a breathing tube, it will be taken out before you are fully awake. Most people have no memory of it. You will often have an oxygen mask or nasal cannula (tube) on your face when waking up. An anesthesia team member will take you to the recovery room.
Recovery from Anesthesia Recovery from anesthesia is different for each person. The type of anesthesia and surgery affect how fast you will recover. While in the recovery room, a recovery nurse and an anesthesiologist will monitor you and treat any issues that may come up. They will address any of the common side effects from the anesthesia which may include sore throat, nausea and vomiting, shivering in the recovery room, and drowsiness.
Will I get a separate bill for the anesthesia services I receive? Yes, approximately 4-6 weeks after your anesthesia services you will receive a separate bill at your mailing address from Integrated Anesthesia Associates.
If you have any questions about your bill, please call 860.282.4024 or you can visit www.iaapartners.com
Questions or concerns? Please call 860.972.2117. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.