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Anesthesiology Frequently asked Questions
1. What is the function of Anesthesia?
The combination of anesthetic agents - intravenous drugs and inhaled gasses - is intended to induce:
     •  Analgesia - loss of response to pain
     •  Amnesia - loss of memory
     •  Immobility - loss of motor reflexes
     •  Unconsciousness
     •  Relaxation of skeletal muscles
2. Are there different kinds of anesthesia?
There are three main categories of anesthesia: local, regional, and general. Each has many forms and uses.
In local anesthesia, the anesthetic drug is usually injected into the tissue to numb just the specific location of your body requiring minor surgery, for example, on the hand or foot.

In regional anesthesia, your anesthesiologist makes an injection near a cluster of nerves to numb the area of your body that requires surgery. You may remain awake, or you may be given a sedative. You do not see or feel the actual surgery take place. There are several kinds of regional anesthesia. Two of the most frequently used are spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia, which are produced by injections made with great exactness in the appropriate areas of the back. They are frequently preferred for childbirth and prostate surgery.

In general anesthesia, you are unconscious and have no awareness or other sensations. There are a number of general anesthetic drugs. Some are gases or vapors inhaled through a breathing mask or tube and others are medications introduced through a vein. During anesthesia, you are carefully monitored, controlled and treated by your anesthesiologist, who uses sophisticated equipment to track all your major bodily functions. A breathing tube may be inserted through your mouth and frequently into the windpipe to maintain proper breathing during this period. The length and level of anesthesia is calculated and constantly adjusted with great precision. At the conclusion of surgery, your anesthesiologist will reverse the process and you will regain awareness in the recovery room.
3. What are the risks of anesthesia?
All operations and all anaesthesia have some element of risk, and they are dependent upon many factors including the type of surgery and the medical condition of the patient. Fortunately, adverse events are very rare. The anesthesiologist takes the necessary precautions to prevent incidents from occurring just as you do when driving a car or crossing the street.
The specific risks of anesthesia vary with the particular procedure and the condition of the patient. Kindly consult your anesthesiologist about any risks that may be associated with your anesthesia.
4. What about eating or drinking before my Anesthesia?
As a general rule, you should not eat or drink anything after midnight before your surgery. Under some circumstances, you may be given permission by your anesthesiologist to drink clear liquids up to a few hours before you’re Anaesthesia.
5. Should I take my usual medicines?
Some medications should be taken and others should not. It is important to discuss this with the anesthesiologists. Do not interrupt medications unless your anesthesiologist or surgeon recommends it.
6. Could herbal medicines and other dietary supplements affect my anesthesia if I need surgery?
Anesthesiologists are conducting research to determine exactly how certain herbs and dietary supplements interact with certain Anesthesia. They are finding that certain herbal medicines may prolong the effects of anesthesia. Others may increase the risks of bleeding or raise blood pressure. Some effects may be subtle and less critical, but for anesthesiologists anticipating a possible reaction is better than reacting to an unexpected condition. So it is very important to tell your doctor about everything you take before surgery.
7. Should I stop smoking before my surgery?
The bottom line is - quit smoking now! Your surgery represents a golden opportunity to do so. There is evidence that smokers who quit at or before surgery experience fewer symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and are more likely to succeed in their attempt to stop smoking long term. Although it may take 3 - 6 weeks for the lungs to recover from some of the effects of smoking, but it still wise to leave smoking even if it is 2 or 3 days prior to surgery.
8. I need a total hip replacement and the surgeon I’ve seen says he uses spinals for surgery. I’ve heard bad things about this and wonder how safe that kind of anesthesia is?
You can rest assured that spinal anesthesia is a safe choice for hip surgery. Many patients when offered this type of anesthesia are concerned about serious side effects, such as paralysis, and also about troubling but less dangerous side effects, such as headache. There seems to be a common, although false, perception that these complications occur often. In fact, spinal anesthesia has a long track record of safety, with a rate of serious complications (low!) about equal to the rate of major problems with general anesthesia (also low!). Studies that have looked at the overall outcome of spinal and general anesthesia for hip surgery have not found a completely convincing advantage of one over the other, and therefore both types of anesthesia are commonly used. In our hospital, at least half of the hip replacement surgery is done with spinal anesthesia. Among the reasons it is favored, include:
     •  More rapid recovery of mental function.
     •  Lack of need for insertion of breathing tubes.
     •  Lower incidence of nausea or vomiting.
     •  Prolongation of anesthesia after completion of surgery, which means a longer pain free period.

Paralysis after spinal anesthesia is very rare. The number of patients who develop a headache is also quite low – in expert hands and using appropriately sized (small) needles, fewer than 1% or so of patients should have a headache. Although a “spinal headache” is troublesome, it is not life-threatening. Not all patients are candidates for spinal anesthesia. We do not offer this technique to patients who are at risk for internal bleeding problems or to patients with infection in the area where the needle is inserted. In our hospital, we try to offer a realistic explanation of the different anesthetic techniques, their risks and benefits. Assuming there is not an absolutely compelling reason to choose a particular technique, we usually allow the patient to make a choice. It is best for you to have this discussion with your anesthesiologist, the physician who will be responsible for this aspect of your care.
9. How is the epidural block performed for labor and delivery?
An epidural block is given in the lower back. You will either be sitting up or lying on your side. The block is administered below the level of the spinal cord. The anesthesiologist will use a local anesthesia to numb an area of your lower back. A special needle is placed in the epidural space just outside the spinal sac.
10. Should my throat be sore after surgery?
A sore throat after general Anesthesia is not uncommon, occurring about 20-30% of the time. In most cases it is mild, and gets better without treatment over a couple of days. Steam inhalation 2 to 3 times a day usually cures the sore throat.
11. Will I suffer from nausea and vomiting after surgery?
Nausea after general Anesthesia is quite common, especially if you are young, female, have had postoperative nausea or motion sickness before, a long anesthetic, and if you have had certain types of surgery, such as breast operations, eye or ear procedures, shoulder operations and others. There are very effective medicines to relieve your symptoms.