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Surgery: What You Need to Know Online Manual

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Anesthesia

These medicines give you the loss of feeling or sensation during surgery. You may be asleep or awake, depending on the type of anesthesia you receive.

You will receive your anesthesia from an anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist.

An anesthesiologist supervises the process of giving you anesthesia. A nurse anesthetist will work with the anesthesiologist. They constantly monitor your condition during surgery. The anesthesiologist supervises your recovery after surgery.

Your doctor will talk with you about which type of anesthesia is right for you. The one you receive will depend on your surgery, your medical and surgical history, and your physical health.

Types of anesthesia

There are five types of anesthesia:

  • general: You are asleep during surgery and have no sensation of pain. This is used for a wide variety of surgeries.
  • regional: This involves a loss of sensation to a specific region of your body. For a Cesarean birth, for instance, you will be numb from the waist down and unable to move your legs. You will be awake but comfortable during surgery. You will gradually regain normal movement and feeling after delivery or surgery. You may also receive sedation with this type of anesthesia.
  • local: This involves the loss of sensation in a limited area of your body (such as finger surgery). You will be awake but comfortable during surgery.
  • monitored anesthesia care (known as MAC): You will be sleepy and relaxed during your surgery. You may receive a sedative through an intravenous (IV) line before and during surgery.
  • bier block (IV block): You will have temporary numbness and pain relief. The anesthesiologist injects a type of local anesthesia,using a special tourniquet to direct it into one area of your body. This is usually used for hand and forearm surgery.

The amount of time it takes for the anesthesia to wear off differs for each person. You will recover from the anesthesia in a special area where nurses will monitor your recovery after surgery.

Preparing for anesthesia

  • If you are taking medicines, a nurse will talk with you about whether to take them on the day of your surgery.
  • If you receive general, spinal or monitored anesthesia care (MAC) anesthesia, you should not drive a car, operate equipment, or make any important or legal decisions for 24 hours after surgery. You must have someone drive you home after surgery.
  • You must fast before surgery. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. You may have clear liquids 3 hours before receiving the anesthetic.
  • Infants and young children have different fasting needs from adults. If your child is having surgery, a nurse will call you before surgery to explain these to you.

 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Surgery: What You Need to Know, surg-ahc-21686; What You Should Know About Anesthesia, surg-ahc-11761

First published: 01/15/2011
Last updated: 01/15/2011

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts