Who will be taking care of me in the operating room?
While under anesthesia, you will be under the care of a solo anesthesiologist or both an anesthesiologist and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). In either scenario, we administer medicines to prevent you from feeling pain and sensations; closely monitor your vital signs adjusting anesthetics accordingly and direct the administration of appropriate medications during your recovery.
Anesthesiologists are physicians (M.D. or D.O) with highly specialized training in the practice of anesthesia. They complete 4 years of medical school followed by an additional 4 years of residency. Some of our physicians additionally have specialty fellowship training. The anesthesiologist will either work with you directly during your anesthetic or will be the leader of an anesthetic team in conjunction with one of our CRNAs.
CRNAs have advanced nursing degrees and are specially trained in the practice of anesthesia. Our CRNAs work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist during the delivery of your care and will administer medications and monitor your vital signs throughout surgery.
What are the different types of anesthesia?
There are 3 main types of anesthesia administered during surgery: general, MAC (monitored anesthesia care), and regional.
General Anesthesia – General anesthetics make you unconscious and unable to feel pain or other sensations. Many general anesthetics are gases given through a mask or breathing tube. Others are liquid medicines given through a vein. During surgery, we use sophisticated electronic equipment to monitor your vital signs, including heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, breathing, brain and kidney functions.
MAC – Under monitored anesthetic care you are given sedating medication and oftentimes numbing medication to help with pain. There are different levels of MAC and depending on your overall health you may require less sedating medication. You may be more aware of your surroundings under MAC but any anxiety you may have can be treated with medicinal and non-medicinal techniques.
Regional Anesthesia – This method of anesthesia numbs an entire area of the body requiring surgery. Nerve blocks can be used to make a specific extremity or part of an extremity, such as an arm or leg, numb. Spinal anesthesia is used to make the entire lower half of your body numb and is also called neuraxial anesthesia. Often for procedures involving the legs, both of these techniques will be used during the same surgery. Regional anesthesia also includes epidurals which are frequently used in labor and delivery.
What are the risks of anesthesia?
Serious complications during anesthetic care are exceedingly rare. Your anesthesiologist will review your medical conditions, identify those that may increase your risk, and tailor your anesthetic to minimize any potential risk. There are some common side effects of anesthesia including nausea, vomiting, and headache. Your anesthesiologist will review further surgery and anesthetic specific side effects the day of your surgery.