When delivering general anesthesia, your anesthesiologist uses a combination of different drugs to make sure that you are unconscious throughout the entire procedure. Because your entire body is anesthetized, you feel no pain and remember nothing about the surgery, although some people who awaken quickly may remember being in the operating room. Other goals of your anesthesiologists will be to use the proper drugs to minimize discomfort after surgery. In addition, the anesthesiologist will often administer medication to reduce the risk of nausea and vomiting after surgery.
General anesthesia is started by one of two methods: inhalation or injection. This usually depends on your health and age. For pediatric patients, your child will breathe a combination of gases delivered through a mask. We try to make this more pleasant by allowing your child to choose a “flavor” for his or her mask. For most adult patients, general anesthesia is starting by injecting a medication into an intravenous catheter that is inserted into a vein in the hand or arm.
After you are asleep, the anesthesiologist will continue the inhaled or intravenous medications, or a combination of, for the entire operation. Some patients require a breathing tube to be placed after they are asleep. Your anesthesiologist will tell you if this is necessary for your operation.
Some operations can be performed using local anesthesia with sedation, the technical term is monitored anesthesia care (MAC). This is different from general anesthesia because only the part of the body that is being operated on is numb. The anesthesiologist uses medications to help you relax during the operation. Occasionally, you will not remember all or some of the operation (amnesia), but most patients will be aware of what is going on in the operating room. They simply do not have any discomfort.
Your anesthesia will be administered by an anesthesiologist or an anesthesia care team composed of an anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist. These individuals are present throughout the surgery, regardless of whether it is general or MAC, to continually monitor and adjust the medications to provide maximum safety and comfort during your surgery.
Never hesitate to ask any member of the anesthesia department questions about your anesthesia.