What do anaesthetists do?
Anaesthetists are mainly responsible for keeping the patient safe and free of pain during a surgery. Prior to the scheduled operation, the anaesthetist will meet with the patient and discuss the procedure and what is the most appropriate anaesthetic technique for the operation. The anaesthetist will inform the patient of the risks involved in administering anaesthesia. During the operation the anaesthetist will continuously monitor the patients blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and brain function. After the operation, their role will involve the provision of post-operative medicines to relieve the post operative pain. The anaesthetist will also give the instructions as to when the patient can eat and drink again.
What is an anaesthetist?
An anaesthetist is a doctor with several years of training in the field of anaesthetics. Anaesthetists must complete on the job training and a series of examinations to prepare them well for their profession. They tailor the best care plan for each individual patient, based on their background and specific needs.
Are anaesthetics safe?
Anaesthesia is very safe, but just like any other medical procedure, anaesthetics carry a risk. Some studies and large series of data report the anaesthesia-related mortality rate to be less than 0.00001%. This number is considered an extremely low risk according to international standards. Risk are related to the particular patient and the type of surgery, your anaesthetist will discuss this with you prior to your operation.
What types of drugs are given to the patient?
Before surgery, anaesthetists may give you different types of drugs for different purposes. To prevent you from feeling pain, block certain reflexes, to control nausea or to cause sedation. Anaesthetists provide different mixtures of drugs depending on the type of operation and needs of the patient. You may consult your anaesthetist regarding this prior to your operation.
How are anaesthetics administered?
Anaesthetics may be administered or given in different ways. Local anaesthetics may be given through injection, sprays, drops, or even as an ointment. Regional anaesthetics are mostly injected, as they need to be adminestered close to the nerves. General anesthesia may be administered through injection or may be inhaled and breathed into the lungs.
What are the types of anaesthetics?
There are three types of anaesthetics:
- Local anaesthetic – This type of anaesthetic is applied only to the specific part of the body where the surgery will be done. The patient is conscious but will not feel the pain. This may be combined with sedation.
- Regional anaesthetic – This is applied to a larger or deeper part of the body. The patient is conscious but will not feel the pain. This may be combined with sedation.
- General anaesthetic – This type of anaesthetic makes the whole body insensitive. The patient is in a controlled unconscious state and does not feel anything. The patient wakes up a few minutes after the operation has been completed
What is an anaesthetic?
An anaesthetic is a combination of drugs that makes your body, or just a particular part of your body, insensitive to feeling pain or other sensations. Anaesthetics are normally given to patients scheduled for an operation.
Preparing for Operation
What will happen if I only have local anaesthetic?
Local anaesthetics are targeted only to specific parts of the body, you are conscious during the operation. However, you will not feel any pain in the body part involved. The operation site will be screened so you will not be able to see anything.
What is premedication or premed?
Premedication is a drug or mix of drugs given to patients before administering anaesthetics. Premeds are given for different reasons. Some prepare the patient’s body for the anaesthetics to be given while others may help the patient relax. If there is no need for a premedication, none will be given to you.
Can I choose my anaesthetist?
Surgeons and anaesthetists work together to ensure that your operation runs smoothly. Normally. prior to your operation, the surgeon will inform you as too who your anaesthetist will be, so that s/he can answer your questions.
What are the usual dos and dont’s before an operation?
If you have a scheduled operation, it is better to prepare yourself days before to avoid any problems that may occur. The following are some of the things that you can do:
- If you are overweight, try to reduce weight before the operation to minimize the risks associated with the procedure.
- If you smoke, try to cut down or totally stop, to avoid having breathing problems during and after the operation.
- Normally, at least 6 hours before your operation, you should not take anything by mouth. Including gum, water, etc. This ensures that your stomach is empty when the anaesthetics are administered. If your stomach is full, the liquid or the food can regurgitate and damage your lungs.
- If you have medication that you take regularly, seek advice regarding the intake of these medicines prior to your operation.
- If you are not feeling well before your operation, inform your surgeon immediately to check your condition.
After the Operation
Will there be any post-operative pain relief?
Feeling pain or discomfort around the surgical area is normal, this may go on for a few days. Your doctor will prescribe post-operative pain relief. Make sure to take the pain medication as prescribed by your doctor as not all pain medications are the same.
When can I do my normal activities again?
This depends on the type of surgery you have undergone. It may be several days or weeks before you can resume your normal activities again. Make sure to inform your surgeon about all the activities you expect to be doing, so you will know the best time to start doing them again.
How soon can I get up, eat and drink after the operation?
This depends on the type of surgery you have undergone and the type of anaesthetics given. Your anaesthetist and surgeon will be able to tell you when you can eat and drink normal food again.
Will I still feel numb when I awake?
Yes, if a local anaesthetic has been given. This may take several hours to wear off. Some pain relief may be needed following this period.
Is the anaesthetist’s job done after the operation?
Your anaesthetist will stay with you until after the operation, to ensure that you are recovering well. S/he will be monitoring your progress until you are fully recovered. Your anaesthetist will tell you when you can go back to eating and drinking normally and will prescribe medicines for your pain.