Most anaesthetists in Australia are highly trained specialists, having spent at least 5 yeas undergoing training in anaesthesia, pain control, resuscitation and the management of medical emergencies.
The role of the anaesthetist
People often think of anaesthesia as being ‘put to sleep’. However, this is not strictly true. Usually the anaesthetist puts you into a state of carefully controlled unconsciousness. This is done so that you will be unaware, and not feel pain. No chance is taken during this period. Your major bodily functions are carefully and constantly monitored by your anaesthetist. This level of unconsciousness is called a ‘General Anaesthetic.”
All surgery performed by Migynae in hospital are under General Anaesthetic. This is a state of unconsciousness for the duration of the operation. This is achieved by injecting drugs through a cannula placed in a vein and then maintained with intravenous drugs or a mixture of gases which you will breathe. While you remain unaware of what is happening around you, the anaesthetist monitors your condition closely and constantly adjusts the level of anaesthesia. You will often be asked to breathe oxygen through a mask just before your anaesthesia starts.
What can you do to assist
- Get a little fitter – regular walks will help
- Do not smoke – ideally, stop six weeks before your surgery
- Drink less alcohol
- Continue to take any drugs which have been prescribed but remember to let your anaesthetist and surgeon know what they are
- If you are taking aspirin, non steroidal anti-inflammatory agents or other blood thinning drugs, consult your surgeon or anaesthetist about whether you should stop taking them prior to surgery.
- If you have any kind of health problem, tell your anaesthetist and surgeon so they are fully informed.
- If you are concerned about your anaesthetic, make an appointment to see your anaesthetist before admission to hospital to get the answers you need.
- Stop taking herbal products at least two or three weeks prior to surgery.
- Inform your anaesthetist if you use recreational drugs as these may interact with the anaesthetic
- Inform you surgeon and anaesthetist if you object to blood transfusions
What should I tell my anaesthetist about myself?
You will usually see your anaesthetist before your operation. This may not be possible for emergency cases, day cases and late arrivals. In those circumstances the ‘pre-operative consultation’ will take place in the anaesthetic room or the theatre. The Anaesthetist will want to know about:
- Any prescription, over-the-counter or recreational drugs you take or have taken.
- Any allergies to foods, drugs, or environmental agents
- Any unusual reactions to drugs or anaesthetics that you or anyone in the family has had
- Any history of asthma, diabetes, heart problems or other health concerns
- Use of cigarettes, the birth control pill and alcohol consumption
- Any loose teeth, dentures, crowned, capped teeth or contact lenses. If your teeth are very loose, you should try to visit a dentist prior to surgery
An anaesthetist wants to have the best possible picture of you and your present conditions so that the most suitable anaesthetic can be planned. Answer all questions honestly – it is really all about minimising risk to you.
Is fasting really necessary?
We know being hungry can be uncomfortable, but no food or drink before the operation is a must. Not even water. Food or fluid in the stomach may be vomited and enter your lungs while you are unconscious. If you do not follow this rule of fasting, the operation may be postponed in the interests of your safety. Migynae will advise you how long to fast and when you can have your last sip of water; all relative to the time of the scheduled surgery.
After the operation
Your anaesthetist, with recovery room staff, will continue to monitor your condition carefully, well after surgery is finished, to ensure your recovery is as smooth and trouble-free as possible.
You will feel drowsy for a little while after you wake up from the anaesthetic. You may have a sore throat, feel sick or have a headache. These symptoms are temporary and usually soon pass.
To help the recovery process, you will be given oxygen to breathe, usually by a clear plastic facemask, and encouraged to take deep breaths and to cough. Only when you are fully awake and comfortable will you be transferred either back to your room, ward, or a waiting area before returning home.
Do not worry if there is some dizziness, blurred vision or short term memory loss. It usually passes quickly. If you experience any worrying after-effects; you should contact your anaesthetist.
It is likely that you will be asked to come into hospital only a few hours before your operation.
Hospitals are very busy places and current practice means that you may only see your anaesthetist just before your anaesthetic. Please feel free to contact your anaesthetist prior to coming into the hospital if you have particular concerns or questions. Any important, relevant medical history will be relayed to your anaesthetist from the office of Migynae.
The best part is that most people now go home on the day of surgery. If you are having ‘Day Surgery” make sure there is someone to accompany you home.
For at least 24 hours do not
- Drive a car
- Make important decisions
- Use any dangerous tools or equipment
- Sign any legal documents
- Drink alcohol
We urge you to ask questions. Your anaesthetist will be happy to answer them and discuss the best way to work with you for the best possible outcome.