Frequently Asked Questions - Anaesthetics

Will I see my Anaesthetist before my operation?

Yes. You will meet your Anaesthetist shortly before your procedure, when you are on the ward. You will be asked important questions about your medical history such as any illnesses or allergies you may have and if you have had any Anaesthetics in the past. If you have any questions or concerns about your Anaesthetic there will be an opportunity to address them with your Anaesthetist at this stage.

Why do I have to stop eating and drinking before my Anaesthetic?

It is important that you do not consume any food or drinks (except water) for 6 hours before you have an Anaesthetic. You may drink only water up until 2 hours before your Anaesthetic. The reason for this is that during your Anaesthetic the reflexes in the throat are suppressed which means that any food in your stomach can pass into the lungs. This can be dangerous to you which is why it is essential for you to be starved of food and drink (except water – see above) for six hours.

Do I need to stop my medications before my procedure?

You normally should not stop any of your essential medications. Please take your usual essential medications with a tiny sip of water at the regular time. Do remember to bring a list of all your medications to show the nurse at your pre-assessment (if you are having one) and also let your admitting nurse and anaesthetist know all the medications you are on. This is because your medications may influence your anaesthetic and surgery. You should also inform the nurse and anaesthetist of any allergies that you have to foods, metals, drugs etc. Some important notes on certain conditions are listed below.

DIABETES (insulin or tablet)

In general you should not take your insulin injection or your tablet, when you are fasting. For example, if your operation is in the morning, DO NOT TAKE your morning dose or injection as you will be fasting overnight, but do take the previous dose as normal. If your operation is in the evening, take your doses as normal in the morning, but stop injection/tablets if you are taking any at lunchtime (you will fast for 6 hours, usually after 10 am).You can resume your normal regime, once you are eating and drinking normally. If in any doubt, consult your surgeon or anaesthetist.

ASPIRIN, WARFARIN, CLOPIDOGREL, CLEXANE or any blood thinning agent

You will need to stop most blood thinning agents such as Aspirin or Clopidogrel at least 1-2 weeks before your procedure. This is to avoid excessive bleeding at your operation. If you are on Warfarin or Clexane, you will need to liaise with your surgeon and cardiologist. If in any doubt, consult your surgeon or anaesthetist and certainly inform them when you see them, as it may influence your management.

What are the risks of General Anaesthesia?

Anaesthetists are highly trained Specialist Doctors who have undergone many years of training. Their role is to look after you during your Anaesthetic and in the immediate postoperative period. In their hands the risks of Anaesthesia are very low. Obviously, risk can vary between patients and this will be discussed with you during your preoperative visit.

Will I wake up during my Anaesthetic?

The risk of waking up ( “awareness”) during Anaesthesia is extremely low. A 2007 study has suggested that if you have no risk factors then the risk of awareness is 1 in 42000 Anaesthetics. Your Anaesthetist will remain with you throughout the operation and will adjust the Anaesthetic to keep you asleep for the whole procedure thus keeping the risk of awareness as low as possible.

Do I need a ‘pre-med’?

It is usually not necessary nowadays for patients to be given any medication prior to the Anaesthetic itself as these drugs can make you drowsy and groggy after the Anaesthetic itself has worn off.

Will the anaesthetic make me feel sick?

In the past some people have experienced nausea and vomiting after an Anaesthetic. With modern Anaesthetics and drugs this is less likely. We routinely give patients anti nausea medication during their Anaesthetic. If you have had sickness following a previous Anaesthetic please mention this to your Anaesthetist and they will take extra precautions to reduce the chances of this happening again.

What happens if I wake up with pain?

Having an operation can be a painful procedure, and even when you are under the anaesthetic your anaesthetist will have given you some pain-relieving medication. If however you experience pain after the procedure, then ask the doctors or nurses for additional pain relief. Remember that a little discomfort is to be expected but asking for painkillers is a good idea if you feel you need them.