Q. What is anesthesia?
Anesthesia, broadly defined, is an induced lack of awareness of your surroundings and your own body. Though often compared to sleep, anesthesia is perhaps closer to a reversible coma. The development of modern anesthetics has ensured that patients remain comfortable and safe through a wide variety of surgical procedures.
Q. How is anesthesia administered?
Anesthesia is administered by specially trained professionals through a variety of methods. For General Anesthesia medications are commonly injected into a vein or inhaled. Regional Anesthesia, which only reduces sensation to a part of the body, is accomplished by injecting local anesthetic medicines around specific nerves.
Q. Is anesthesia safe?
Anesthesia, like any other activity, carries some risks. The good news is that both minor and severe complications from anesthesia are becoming less and less frequent. Innovative technology and specialized training have improved patient safety and patient satisfaction. Emergency surgeries and patients with severe pre-existing illnesses are at slightly higher risk than the average patient.
Q. What can be done to minimize my risks?
The best way to minimize your risks from anesthesia is to cooperate with your anesthesia provider. By honestly answering questions about your medical conditions, your medications, and your lifestyle, your anesthesia provider will be able to tailor an anesthetic plan to your specific situation.
Q. Who will be caring for me while I’m under anesthesia?
Anesthesia providers are physicians and nurses who have undergone extensive training in anesthesia in order to provide the safest and best care possible.
Q. Will someone be monitoring me the entire time?
Yes! Your anesthesia provider will be in the operating room with you the entire time you are under anesthesia. He or she will be monitoring your vital signs and administering medications as needed to keep you comfortable and to optimize the function of your heart and lungs.
Q. What should I expect if I need anesthesia for a procedure?
For scheduled surgeries, the process begins a few days before your surgery. General information about your health will be collected, such as your height and weight, as well as any medications you may take. Based on your specific situation, additional laboratory tests or other exams may be performed. Prior to surgery you will meet with your anesthesia provider who will ask you further questions about your health and will perform a brief physical exam. This is a great time to ask any questions you may have about the anesthetic plan. When possible, we integrate patient preferences into our plans.
Q. I’m afraid of being nauseous after surgery. Can this be prevented?
Called Post-Operative Nausea and Vomiting (PONV), nausea after surgery is the most common anesthetic complication we see, though thankfully, it is rare. Risk factors for PONV include: female gender, nonsmoking status, a history of PONV, a history of motion sickness, OB/GYN, ENT, or eye surgeries. Prior to surgery, every patient’s risk for PONV is evaluated and a customized plan is developed to prevent nausea. Be sure to discuss this with your anesthesia provider if certain therapies have or have not worked well for you in the past.
Q. I’ve heard of people waking up during surgery. Could this happen to me?
While there are verified reports of awareness while under general anesthesia, they are extremely uncommon. Our providers carefully monitor a variety of parameters to ensure that patients are thoroughly anesthetized.
Q. Will I receive a separate bill for my anesthesia care?
Yes, like your surgeon, your anesthesia provider bills independently of the hospital or surgery center. Shasta Anesthesia Consultants contracts with MEDAC, Inc. for billing services. They can be contacted toll free at (844) 810-4300.
Q. Are there alternatives to going all the way to sleep for my surgery?
Depending on your situation and the surgery being performed, your anesthesia provider may recommend alternatives to general anesthesia. For smaller or less invasive procedures, sedation may be an option, either alone or in conjunction with other techniques. Sedation involves medications that decrease anxiety and/or pain while still allowing you to be aware of your surroundings. Regional anesthesia techniques place local anesthetics, like lidocaine, around specific nerves to reduce your sensation in parts of your body. Depending on the site of your operation, the medication can be placed in different locations. Regional anesthesia is used to reduce pain both during the surgery and after.
Q. I’m interested in receiving an epidural to help reduce labor pain, is that safe for my baby and I?
Labor epidurals are one of the most common regional anesthesia blocks performed and are quite safe. Multiple studies of many thousands of women have shown this to be a safe and effective way to manage labor pain.
Q. How soon can I receive a labor epidural? How late?
When a woman chooses to receive a labor epidural is up to her and her obstetrician. Of note, there is some time required between requesting an epidural block and the lessening of pain. Allowing time for the administration of fluids and the placement of the epidural catheter, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes may pass from the time of the request to relief.