General Pre-Operative Information

Anaesthesia and You

The role of the Anaesthetist

People often think of anaesthesia as being put to sleep. However, that’s not strictly true. Rather, the anaesthetist puts you into a state of carefully controlled unconsciousness. This is done so that surgery will be painless.

No chance is taken during this period. Your anaesthetist will carefully and constantly monitor all your bodily functions during your operation. Afterwards, we want you to experience as little pain and discomfort as possible and here again, the anaesthetist will help.

Your role

There are some things you can do which make your anaesthetic safer.

  • Get a little fitter – even a regular walk will work wonders

  • Don’t smoke – ideally, give it away six weeks before surgery

  • Drink less alcohol

  • Continue to take any drugs, which have been prescribed but remember to let your anaesthetist and surgeon know.

  • If you are taking aspirin, fish oil, clopidogrel, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, warfarin or other blood thinners, consult your surgeon or anaesthetist about whether you should stop taking it at least one week prior to surgery.

  • If you have any kind of health problem tell your anaesthetist and surgeon so they are fully informed.

  • For children, many hospitals can arrange a pre-operative visit.

The anaesthetist wants to have the best possible picture of you and your present conditions so that the most suitable anaesthetic can be planned. It is really all about minimising risk.

Is fasting really necessary?
We know the pangs of hunger can be severe but no food or drink before the operation is a must. Not even water. If you don’t follow this rule, the operation may be postponed in the interests of your safety. Fasting times will vary between babies, children and adults, so please consult you surgeon or anaesthetist prior to surgery.

Sedation, General, Regional or Local Anaesthesia?
No, it’s not a geography quiz. The question relates to the type of anaesthetic you will receive. This will depend on the nature and duration of the procedure or surgery.

Sedation involves administration of medication, which causes drowsiness; to enable an unpleasant procedure to be performed with a minimum of discomfort to the patient.

General Anaesthesia involves putting a patient to sleep for a surgical procedure, with no awareness of events.

Local Anaesthesia involves the temporary numbing of a small area of the body by the direct insertion of a drug.

Regional Anaesthesia involves the temporary numbing a larger area of the body, by blocking its major nerve supply.

There may be a need to combine the above techniques, or change from one to the other as circumstances dictate. Regardless of the technique chosen, the anaesthetist will stay with you during your operation to monitor you and manage both your medical problems and pain relief. Our intention is to ensure that you have the best possible outcome from your surgery.

After the Operation

Your anaesthetist will continue to monitor your condition carefully well after surgery is finished to ensure your recovery is as smooth and trouble-free as possible.

Once awake, you will feel drowsy. You may have a sore throat, feel sick or have a headache. These will soon pass.

To help the recovery process, you will be given oxygen to breathe, encouraged to take deep breaths and to cough. Only when you’re fully awake and comfortable will you be transferred either back to your room or to a waiting area before returning home.

Don’t worry if there is some dizziness, blurred vision or short-term memory loss. It usually passes quite quickly.


Needles, syringes and intravenous lines are all used only once. They are new in the packet before your surgery commences and they are disposed of immediately afterwards. Cross infection from one patient to another is thus eliminated.

Going home

The best part is that most people now go home much sooner after surgery. If you are having day surgery, make sure there is someone to accompany you home and, for at least 24 hours, don’t drive a car, make important decisions, use any dangerous equipment or tools, sign any legal documents or drink alcohol.

We urge you to ask questions

Your anaesthetist will be happy to answer them and to discuss the best way to work with you for the best possible outcome.

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