WHAT IS ANAESTHESIA?
The word “anaesthesia” means “without feeling pain”. It refers to a variety of methods used to make your operation painless.
Anaesthesia is given by a specialist doctor called an anaesthesiologist. He or she will also monitor your vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and oxygenation during the operation as well as treat any acute medical conditions that may arise.
There are two types of anaesthesia:
General and regional.
This type of anaesthesia makes you unconscious during the operation. Before the start of the operation, you will be given some anaesthetic drugs, usually by injection, to make you unconscious. At the same time, a mask which supplies oxygen and special anaesthetic gases will be placed over your nose and mouth. Once you are unconscious, a tube may be placed inside your wind pipe to help you to breathe during the operation. This may make your throat a little sore for a day or two after you wake up.
After the operation, your anaesthesiologist will wake you up. You may be drowsy and feel like vomiting, but this will soon pass. The doctor may give you some medicine to reduce the discomfort.
In this type of anaesthesia, a particular part of your body is made numb so that the surgeon can operate on it without you feeling pain. It is usually given as an injection over the nerves that supply the part of the body to be operated upon. You will not be unconscious but the affected area may feel heavy and weak. These effects are temporary and will wear off after the surgery.
Why must I fast before general anaesthesia?
Fasting is necessary, otherwise the food in the stomach could get into your wind pipe and lungs while you are unconscious. This can be very dangerous as it causes blockage and inflammation of the lung passages. You MUST NOT take any solid food for at least 8 hours before your operation. Medicines ordered by your anaesthetist can be taken with a sip of water just before the operation.
Am I fit enough to be given anaesthesia?
Anaesthesia can be given to most patients. Sometimes the doctor may postpone the operation until you are in better health. For example, your anaesthesiologist may wish to have your blood pressure or diabetes controlled first.
Will I feel any pain after the operation?
You may feel some pain as the effects of anaesthesia wear off. You can ask your doctor for medicine to reduce the pain. These may be given orally as tablets or as injections.
When will I meet my anaesthesiologist?
Your anaesthesiologist will visit you before your operation. At this visit, he or she will ask you about your past medical history, what medicines you are taking and whether you have any allergies. He or she can help to answer any questions you may have about the anaesthesia for your operation, including its risks and benefits. He or she will also meet you on the evening prior to surgery.
Educational material published as part of community service by:
DEPARTMENT OF ANAESTHESIA
C. A. 6, 15th MAIN, 11th CROSS, PADMANABHANAGAR
BANGALORE – 560 070