What Is General Anesthesia?
General anesthesia is a combination of medications, usually intravenous drugs along with inhaled gases, that puts you into a medically induced coma. It is typically administered before surgeries or other medical procedures. While it may appear similar to being put to sleep, anesthesia uses medicine to interrupt nerve signals in your body. This way, the brain does not process or respond to pain reflexes, allowing you to go through invasive medical procedures with no discomfort or pain.
When Is General Anesthesia Administered?
A trained specialist called an anesthesiologist is the one who administers the medications associated with anesthesia, a process typically referred to as "putting you under". Along with your physician, the anesthesiologist may recommend general anesthesia for specific procedures, including procedures that have the potential to:
- Cause a lot of blood loss
- Take longer than an hour
- Affect a major organ (such as your heart or brain)
- Affect your breathing
- Involve a large area of your body
You may decide that general anesthesia is not the right choice for your procedure if:
- It does not take a long time
- It only affects a small part of your body (such as the excision of a lipoma)
In these cases, you may be given local anesthesia instead. A local anesthetic is used to numb a small part of your body rather than put you into a coma-like state.
What To Do Before General Anesthesia is Administered
One of the first things you will be told before a medical procedure requiring general anesthetic is to not eat or drink anything after a specific time the day before your surgery. This is because anesthesia relaxes your throat and stomach muscles while you are under, which could cause food or liquid to back up into your lungs. Food left sitting in your digestive tract for a long time can also cause digestive problems when you wake from the anesthesia.
Be sure to inform your doctor about your medical history and any medications you are currently taking. Some medicines have a chance of interfering with the anesthesia and preventing it from working, or it may cause an adverse reaction. You may also need to avoid some over-the-counter aspirin and blood thinners before your surgery.
Before being put under, an anesthesiologist will meet with you to go over your medical history, medications, allergies, and past experiences with anesthesia. This information will help them choose the safest and most effective remedies to use in putting you under.
What Happens While You're Anesthetized?
The doctor will sometimes insert a breathing tube down your trachea to ensure that you are getting enough oxygen during the procedure. It is rare for a patient to undergo general anesthesia without a breathing apparatus due to the amount of sedation required. There are other methods to ensure that you can breathe freely, such as a laryngeal mask; however, an endotracheal tube is the most effective method.
The anesthesiologist or a member of their team will monitor your vitals during the procedure. It is their job to adjust your breathing, temperature, medication, fluids, and blood pressure when required. If any issues arise, they are swiftly corrected with additional medicines, fluids, and even blood transfusions, if necessary.
What To Expect After Anesthesia?
After the procedure, the anesthesiologist wakes you by reversing the medication. You may wake up groggy and slightly confused. General anesthesia is considered safe for most individuals. Even patients with significant health risks can undergo general anesthesia. However, there may be some side effects from the anesthesia, such as:
- Sore Throat
- Muscle Aches
- Dry Mouth
These effects generally only last a day or two. Talk to your doctor about any side effects you may be experiencing following general anesthesia. They may prescribe medication to help lessen nausea or other effects. It is also important to arrange for someone to bring you home after your procedure.
Treasure Valley Hospital is Boise, Idaho's #1 Physician-Owned Hospital
We have been serving Boise and the surrounding area since 1996, and we have done so by offering the highest quality clinical care at lower prices. To find out if your doctor performs procedures at Treasure Valley Hospital, visit the Doctors page of our website or call your doctor’s office to inquire.
How Much Is Your Surgery?
Treasure Valley Hospital is a Boise hospital designed to be efficent and provide high quality health care at the best possible price. We believe our patients deserve to know about how much their procedure will cost. This philosophy allows patients to plan for their health care costs. The TVH Cost Calculator is just another way of caring for patients even before their treatment.Cost Calculator