On the day of the operation
Some people feel anxious about having an operation. For many, their anxiety is worsened by not knowing what to expect. Hopefully, we can start to help you feel less anxious by letting you know what to expect on the day of your operation.
On the ward
You will meet your anaesthetist who will ask you some questions and then explain the type of anaesthesia. Your anaesthestist will be happy to answer any of your questions. You may be asked to sign a form providing consent for your anaesthetic.
In the anaesthetic room (a room next to the operating theatre)
You will be asked to confirm your personal details and some other questions as part of a routine, safety check. Next, we will place a blood pressure cuff on your arm, a peg on your finger and some sticky dots on your chest to monitor you during the operation. Your anaesthetist will then place a small, plastic tube in a vein usually in the back of your hand. This can be a little uncomfortable for some people but thankfully the unpleasant sensation is short-lived. The next steps depend on the kind of anaesthesia you will have.
Your anaesthetist will ask you to breathe some oxygen through a clear, plastic face mask. Medicine will then be injected through the little, plastic tube in the back of your hand and within a minute you will fall asleep. Your anaesthetist will stay with you throughout the operation, continuously monitoring your vital signs. After the operation is finished, your anaesthetist will accompany you to another room called the recovery area where you will wake up completely.
The following video explains the process of undergoing General anaesthesia for an eye surgery as an example
There are different kinds of regional anaesthesia and on the day of your operation the anaesthetist will clearly explain what to expect. It can either be a nerve block which specifically numb a nerve or spinal/epidural anaesthesia which numbs the lower half of your body.
If you are having a hip or knee replacement, it is very likely you will have a spinal anaesthestic. Once the regional anaesthesia has been completed, you may be given medicine through the plastic tube in the back of your hand to make you drowsy during the operation or you may have decided to stay awake. If you have discussed the awake option with your consultant anaesthetist, you can bring in your headphones, music player or any books/newspaper/kindle to keep yourself occupied.
You may then need to be positioned for the operation e.g. lying on your side or with your arm out on a table. This may be done in the anaesthestic room or after you have been transferred into the operating room. A screen will be placed to keep the operating site clean and prevent you from seeing the surgery. After the operation you will be transferred to the recovery room in your bed.
This video explains about spinal anaesthesia for hip and knee replacements.
Regional anaesthesia using Nerve blocks
Depending on the type of surgery, your anaesthetist will discuss the option of a nerve block either as a sole anaesthesia option or for pain relief after surgery. The nerve block could either be done awake or under mild sedation.
This video explains what happens during a nerve block and answers commonly asked questions
Deep sedation for X-ray guided injections
These procedures need an X-ray machine so we usually transfer you straight from the ward into theatre. If you are having an injection in your back, we will ask you to lie on your front on the bed in theatre. Your anaesthetist will ask you some routine, safety questions to confirm details about you and the procedure. Your anaesthetist will then place a small, plastic tube (a ‘drip’) in a vein usually in the back of your hand. This can be a little uncomfortable for some people but thankfully the unpleasant sensation is short-lived. A clear oxygen mask will be placed over your face and your anaesthetist will give you some medicine through the ‘drip’ to make you feel sleepy and unaware of the procedure. After the procedure we will transfer you back into your ward bed and your anaesthetist will accompany you to the recovery room.
This video explains about sedation with eye surgery as an example
All patients are transferred from theatre to the recovery room in a bed, accompanied by their anaesthetist.
Many people only remember waking up in the recovery room after a general anaesthetic. Your vital signs will continue to be monitored in the recovery room by a nurse. You will have received pain-killers and anti-sickness drugs during your operation, however some people still feel some discomfort or nausea on waking. The nurses will be able to give you more medicine to ensure you are comfortable before you return to the ward.
Back on the ward
Your anaesthetist will have prescribed you further pain-killers and anti-sickness drugs for when you are back on the ward. Once you feel able, you may eat and drink.