What is an anaesthetist?
An anaesthetist is a doctor who has specialised training to look after patients before, during and after surgery. They see patients with medical conditions before their operation to get them medically ready for their surgery.
The anaesthetist will talk to you about the best type of anaesthetic for you and the surgery you are having.
Your anaesthetist will stay with you and monitor you during your surgery and while you are in the recovery room. Anaesthetists are actively involved in the management of pain after your operation.
What should I tell my anaesthetist?
Your anaesthetist needs to know how healthy you are so they can plan your anaesthetic.
You should tell your anaesthetist:
- If you have any major medical conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, etc
- If you have had any problems with anaesthetics before
- Any allergies to drugs, medicines or adhesive tapes
- If you have any loose teeth, caps or crowns
- If you smoke and/or drink alcohol and how much
- Any medications you are taking
- If you have indigestion or stomach acid reflux
What is an anaesthetic and what sort of anaesthetic might I have?
Anaesthesia is a state of deep and controlled sleep induced by medications given by an anaesthetist. Your anaesthetist will place a small drip into your arm and inject medicine that will put you to sleep.
You should not feel pain during the surgery.
Epidural and spinal anaesthesia
This anaesthetic involves injecting a medication into your back to the nerves that supply a specific part of your body. You may still feel touch and pressure, but you will not feel any pain.
When this type of anaesthetic is used, you may be given a sedative medication that will make you drowsy.
A needle is used to inject local anaesthetic around the nerves that supply an arm or a leg to numb the area completely.
A drug is injected into the skin around the area to be operated on, to numb the area completely for minor surgery to small areas. For some operations that require a general anaesthetic, a nerve block or local anaesthetic may be also given to reduce the amount of pain felt after the operation.
These medications are given through a drip in your arm to make you sleep, and are used for minor procedures. They are used when the patient needs to be comfortable, but doesn’t need any of the other anaesthetics.
What do I need to do before my operation?
- Please fill out your health questionnaire with your most up to date information. From this information we will be able to see if you need an appointment with the nursing staff in the Pre Admission Clinic, before your operation.
- You may also be asked to come to the preadmission clinic to talk to an anaesthetist and/or resident doctor, depending on the type of operation your surgeon is planning.
- You need to follow any special instructions you are given, especially those related to eating and drinking before surgery.
- Keep taking your medication, unless you are given special instructions by the preadmission nursing staff, anaesthetist or your surgical doctor.
- Try to keep up your normal exercise level up to the day of your surgery unless your doctor has told you not to.
- Stopping smoking before your operation, lowers your risk of serious problems during and after your surgery. The more smokefree time you have before surgery, the greater the benefits to you. The latest research shows that quitting smoking 6-8 weeks before your surgery significantly reduces risk of infection or other complications. See ‘How to quit smoking before surgery’ for more information.
- Please tell the preadmission nurses or the anaesthetist if you or any member of your family have had problems with anaesthetics in the past.
- If you develop a cold, or any other infection, in the week before your operation, please let the preadmission nurse know by calling 4215 1627.
If you are going home on the same day as your operation, please make sure that there is someone to take you home and stay with you overnight. You must not drive a car until the day after your operation or longer, depending on the operation you have had.
What risks are involved?
There are risks involved with all anaesthetics and surgery. Your anaesthetist will answer any questions you may have, when they see you about your operation.
What are the risks from smoking?
When you have surgery, you usually have an anaesthetic drug so the operation can be performed without pain. If you are unconscious, your breathing and heart need monitoring to prevent problems. Smoking adds to the stress of surgery under anaesthesia so if you continue to smoke right up to the time you have surgery, you will be more likely to:
- experience reduced oxygen supply to your heart and body during and after surgery
- have difficulty breathing during and after surgery
- have an increased risk of wound infection
- have an increased risk of lung complications
- experience slowed healing of bones, skin and wounds
- experience reduced effectiveness of some pain-relieving and other drugs.
If you smoke, you are more likely to be admitted to intensive care and to need life support.
How to quit smoking before my operation?
Your surgeon and anaesthetist will talk to you about your smoking, and give you relevant information and resources.
They will likely recommend the Barwon Health Be Smoke service, which is a special clinic devoted to supporting people to quit smoking. The service is available through each of the four main Barwon Health Community Health Centres (Corio, Newcomb, Belmont, Torquay). To make an appointment simply call Information and Access on 1300 715 673
Should I take my medications before my operation?
- Normal medications should be taken with a small amount of water prior to 7.00am unless you have been told by the preadmission nurses, the anaesthetist or your surgical doctor not to.
- If you are a diabetic, it is important to follow any instructions you have been given.
- If you are taking blood thinning medication such as Warfarin, Clopidogrel (Plavix) or Dabigatran, please follow the instructions from the preadmission nurses or the anaesthetist.
Please feel free to ask your anaesthetist any questions about your anaesthetic.
For more information about anaesthetics, please phone 4215 1627.