Anesthesia and Sedation

Doctor with patientWhat Is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia is the use of drugs to prevent pain during surgery or other medical procedures.

Types of Anesthesia 
The anesthesia you are given is based on your health, history, the procedure, and your choices. 

  • Local 
    Produces a loss of feeling to a small, specific area of the body. A shot is given to numb the area. 
  • Regional Anesthesia
    Produces a loss of feeling to a specific region of the body. A shot is given to numb the area that requires surgery. Frequently used for orthopedic surgeries. 
  • General 
    Affects the entire body. You have no awareness or feeling. You may breathe gases or vapors through a mask or tube. Drugs may also be given through an intravenous (IV) tube in your vein.

What Is Sedation? 

Sedation is the use of drugs to relax you, and may be used with anesthesia.

Various Levels of Sedation
All sedation requires oxygen.

  • Relaxed and Awake 
    You can answer questions and follow directions. 
  • Relaxed and Drowsy 
    You may sleep through much of the procedure. You may hear sounds and voices around you. You can be easily awakened when spoken to or touched. 
  • Drowsy to Lightly Sleeping
    You may have little or no memory of the procedure. Your breathing slows. You may sleep until the drugs wear off.

Tell Your Doctor or Anesthesia Professional About: 

  • General health issues and any recent changes
  • Allergies to medicines, foods, latex, rubber, or any other things 
  • Medical problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, asthma, acid reflux, and sleep apnea 
  • Recent hospital admissions, surgeries, or procedures 
  • Experience with anesthesia, especially any problems
  • Any family history of anesthesia problems 
  • Any hearing or language concerns 
  • If you are or could be pregnant 
  • All drugs you are taking, including prescription, supplements, herbs, over-the-counter drugs, and recreational drugs
  • Questions or concerns

Before Your Surgery or Procedure

  • It is important to arrange for an adult to accompany you for 24 hours after receiving anesthesia.
  • Ask a friend or relative to be your advocate. They can help remember questions, write down answers, and remind you about directions. 
  • Arrange to take off work and other activities. 
  • Have someone care for your small children. 
  • An anesthesia professional will talk to you. This could be a physician anesthesiologist or a nurse anesthetist. 
  • Ask the anesthesia professional about the benefits and risks of anesthesia. 
  • Follow instructions for eating, drinking, and taking medicines, especially instructions for when not to eat or drink.

After Your Surgery or Procedure 

You may feel sleepy. The drugs can stay in your body for up to 24 hours. Remember, it is important to follow the instructions provided after the procedure.

Don’t:

  • Drive a car, operate equipment, or drink alcohol for at least 24 hours.
  • Make any important decisions or sign any legal documents until you recover. 
  • Go back to your regular activities, such as work and exercise, until your doctor says it’s OK. 

Do: 

  • Speak up if you have any questions. 
  • Ask for written instructions. Know what signs should cause you to call the doctor. 
  • Ask how to contact someone in an emergency.
  • Ask what medicines you should or should not take. 
  • Have a friend or family member take you home. 
  • Take liquids first and slowly progress to a light meal. 
  • Take it easy until you feel back to normal.

Before your procedure, you may receive information about viewing a“myHealth Matters” video about anesthesia and sedation. We encourage you to watch the video at your convenience and contact your provider with any questions. 

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