Having an Anaesthetic



Patient information

Most patients having an operation need an anaesthetic to keep them comfortable. This pamphlet will tell you about anaesthesia so you will know what to expect. Please feel free to ask questions at any time.


Before your anaesthetic

In the pre-admission clinic you may meet an anaesthesiologist. He or she will talk to you about your health and your anaesthetic. The anaesthesiologist you have on the day of your surgery may not be the anaesthesiologist you meet in the clinic.

It is important that you inform the pre-admission anaesthesiologist about all your health problems. If needed, tests will be ordered for you. For your safety tell the anaesthesiologist about all the drugs that you take including alcohol and other drugs. This is a good time to stop smoking.


Types of anaesthetic you may have

The kind of anaesthetic that you may receive depends on your operation and your health. If you prefer a certain number of anaesthetic, please tell your anaesthesiologist.


General Anaesthesia

Under general anaesthesia, you are ‘asleep’ or unconscious. Anaesthetic drugs are usually given through I.V (intravenous Injection) but may be given through a mask which covers your mouth and nose. For extra safety, oxygen may be given by a mask before you go to sleep.


Regional Anaesthesia

‘Freezing’ or ‘Local anaesthetic’ (Like what dentists use) is injected near nerves to numb a part of your body. You may remain awake or you may have drugs to make you feel sleepy. Tell your anaesthesiologist how sleepy you wish to me.

We always test to make sure that the operation will not hurt. The area will be covered with a sterile sheet to help protect you from infection so you will not be able to watch the operation.


Local anaesthesia

When the operation is small, local anaesthetic may be injected close to the area. You may remain awake or you may have drugs to make you feel sleepy. The risks and benefits of the different kind of anaesthetic for you will depend on many things and should be discussed with your anaesthesiologist.

No matter what kind of anaesthetic you have, your anaesthesiologist will stay with you throughout your operation.


Instructions for day of your surgery


Directions for eating and drinking

DO NOT eat food, drink alcohol, eat candy or chew gum after midnight the night before operation.

You may drink clear fluids until 3hours before your arrival at the hospital. Clear fluids include water, apple juice, clear coffee or tea (no cream or sugar) if it’s a day-case surgery.

An empty stomach will help prevent vomiting. If you have other problems which make you more likely to be sick, the anaesthesiologist may order special medicine for you.


Directions for medication

If you are on medication, please ask the anaesthesiologist about taking them on the day of your surgery. Special instructions will be given about diabetic medication, blood thinners and aspirin.


Your arrival

You will arrive at the hospital admitting area in time for final preparations for surgery or admission. You will be taken to the operating room area approximately one hour before surgery. You will meet your anaesthesiologist there. He or she will have reviewed the information and test results from your preadmission visit and will answer last minute questions for you.


In the operating room.

You will be positioned on a flat table so you are safe and comfortable. Equipment will be put on you so your heart activity, blood pressure and oxygen level can be checked. Your anaesthesiologist will make sure you are as comfortable as possible at the end of your surgery.

Special pain control methods may be necessary and usually will be discussed with you before your operation.


After your anaesthetic

When your operation is finished, your anaesthesiologist will take you to the recovery room. While you are waking up, the nurses will check your heart, breathing and blood pressure. They will remind you to breathe deeply and may give you oxygen.

If you need anything for pain or nausea, they will give it to you. Your anaesthesiologist is responsible for your care in the recovery room.


How safe is Anaesthesia?

A general anaesthetic can cause sleep, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, hoarseness, sore muscles and headache. It is possible that your teeth may be damaged if there is a problem keeping your breathing passage clear. Regional anaesthetics occasionally cause headache and rarely can cause low blood pressure or trouble breathing. Your anaesthesiologist is trained to manage these situations and will be with you throughout your operation.

Overall, the chance of a serious injury or death from an anaesthetic is less than 1 in 10,000. It is safer than driving in a car.



The accounts department will advise your payment methods and requirements before your surgery. If you are not sure about your operation, please ask your surgeon or anaesthesiologist.


Source: http://vch.eduhealth.ca