- 1 Is anesthesia safe?
- 2 What are the risks of anesthesia?
- 3 What type of training does an anesthesiologist have?
- 4 Before an intervention, do you have to keep taking the medications that are taken regularly?
- 5 Why should you have an empty stomach before the intervention?
- 6 What are the different types of sedation?
- 7 What is a blood transfusion?
- 8 What is a spinal block or regional anesthesia?
- 9 What are the side effects of spinal or epidural block?
- 10 What are the risks of anesthesia?
What is anesthesia?
Anesthesia is the provision of a medication to prevent the sensation of pain during a surgical procedure or other invasive procedure that can be painful (such as when stitches are placed or when a wart is removed).
Anesthesia eliminates the sensation of pressure, heat and pain during a surgical intervention and also interrupts muscle activity.
People who must undergo surgery can be distressed just by thinking that they should remain unconscious or temporarily lose sensibility.
The anesthetic drug can be given by injection or inhaling gas and vapor.
Anesthesia affects the nervous system in several ways blocking impulses and therefore also pain.
Today, in hospitals and surgery centers, there are highly qualified professionals (anesthesiologists) who have a wide range of safe and modern medicines. In addition, they use advanced technology to monitor the patient at all times. The anesthesiologist is a doctor specialized in the supply and management of anesthetics, that is, drugs that numb a specific area of the body and help the patient to fall asleep.
In addition to supplying medications, the anesthesiologist must:
- Monitor the patient’s vital parameters (respiration, heart rate and rhythm, body temperature, blood pressure and oxygen levels in the blood) during the surgical intervention.
- To solve the problems that may arise during the surgical intervention
- Keep under control any type of pain that occurs after the surgery
- Do everything possible so that the patient is comfortable before, during and after the intervention.
Are there several different types of anesthesia?
There are three main types of anesthesia: local, regional, general.
Local anesthesia: the anesthetic drug is injected into the tissue to numb only a specific area of the body, before performing the intervention, for example on the hand, foot or tooth. It is an injection that is usually not painful.
Spinal and regional anesthesia : the anesthesiologist performs anesthesia through an injection that is placed near a group of nerves to numb the area of the body where the surgical intervention will be performed. The patient remains awake, but a medicine can be given to him to relax, for example a sedative.
There are several types of regional anesthesia. The most common types are spinal anesthesia (lumbar), epidural anesthesia and spinal anesthesia that are performed with great precision in some specific points of the back.
Often, this type of anesthesia is preferred for intervention in the prostate, for cesarean delivery and for orthopedic interventions such as meniscus.
General or total anesthesia: the patient is unconscious, has no consciousness or any other sensation.
There are several medications to perform general anesthesia. Some are gases or vapors that the patient must inhale through a mask, while other medications are introduced into the body directly through an intravenous line.
During anesthesia, the specialist must monitor and keep the patient under control.
A tube can be inserted into the patient’s mouth or directly into the patient’s windpipe to allow him to breathe, thanks to adequate ventilation, throughout the duration of the surgical procedure.
The duration and dose of anesthesia are calculated accurately and kept under constant control. At the end of the intervention, the anesthesia reverses the procedure and the patient regains consciousness and is again on alert in the recovery room.
The type of anesthesia and the amount of anesthesia is calculated in a personalized way, tailored to the patient. These amounts depend on several factors such as age, weight, type of intervention and the area of the body in which it will be performed, eventual allergies that the patient may have and their current clinical situation.
Is anesthesia safe?
In recent decades there has been much progress in terms of patient safety and therefore, the risks of anesthesia are very low.
In the last 25 years, the deaths associated with anesthesia have decreased from two deaths per 10,000 anesthetics delivered to one death per 250,000 anesthetics.
Some diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity can increase the risks of anesthesia.
However, anesthesiologists make sure that even patients who are very sick can undergo a safe surgical procedure.
General or regional anesthesia can also be used in pregnant women, but if the woman is pregnant she should tell the doctor.
What are the risks of anesthesia?
All interventions, as well as all types of anesthesia, carry risks that depend on several factors such as the type of surgical intervention and the patient’s clinical condition. Fortunately, adverse situations are very rare. The anesthesiologist takes all necessary precautions to prevent health problems from occurring.
Talk to the anesthesiologist about the possible risks of anesthesia.
What type of training does an anesthesiologist have?
Anesthesiologists must graduate from medical school and then must perform four years of specialization (advanced training) in anesthesiology. In addition, some anesthesiologists decide to make a graduate degree or other specialization that lasts one year to specialize in a specific industry, such as in pain management, cardiac, pediatric, neurological, obstetrics, anesthesia etc, etc, etc.
To perform surgical procedures on the teeth, the anesthesia used is local anesthesia and directly supplies the dentist.
Before an intervention, do you have to keep taking the medications that are taken regularly?
It is very important that the patient communicates to the doctor the medicines that he is taking before the surgery so that the doctor can decide if he can continue taking them or if he should leave them. Some of the most common medications used by patients are: Aspirin and Plavix, which are medicines used to prevent blood clotting.
These medicines are used in the treatment for patients suffering from some diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
Aspirin and Plavix can cause more heavy bleeding when the patient is injured or when undergoing surgery. If the person is taking one of these medications, they should tell the doctor before the intervention to see if they can continue doing it or not. To decide whether the patient should stop using Aspirin and Plavix, the doctor must consider the importance of these medications for the patient’s clinical situation, but also the possible risks that may cause heavy bleeding during the intervention.
Diuretic medications are often prescribed for the treatment of high blood pressure. This type of medication can cause changes in electrolyte levels, such as potassium. If the patient takes diuretic medications, the anesthesiologist may choose to perform some blood tests on the patient before the surgery.
Generally, patients with diabetes undergo treatment based on insulin injections or pills. The anesthesiologist can decrease the morning dose of insulin or suspend the pill before the surgery.
The patient should always go to the anesthesiologist or the doctor to inform them of the medications they are taking, before any surgical intervention.
Why should you have an empty stomach before the intervention?
It is very important that the patient has an empty stomach before any surgical intervention or any medical procedure that involves the use of anesthesia.
When the anesthesia is delivered, the reflexes relax.
This favors the content of the stomach is returned through the esophagus to reach the mouth, but can also reach the trachea or lungs. The stomach contains acids, therefore, the gastric content that reaches the lungs can cause severe pneumonia, which is known as aspiration pneumonia.
What are the different types of sedation?
Sedation allows patients to remain calm during certain medical or surgical procedures.
Sedation can relieve pain and reduce the anxiety caused by certain treatments or diagnostic tests.
With mild or moderate sedation, patients remain awake and respond to instructions appropriately.
However, with the deepest sedation, patients generally fall asleep and upon waking do not remember anything of what has happened.
A high dose of a sedative can stop breathing, therefore, often, the patient is placed on an oxygen mask to improve breathing.
What is a blood transfusion?
A blood transfusion is a very important medical treatment that can save people’s lives. When a person has lost a lot of blood during a surgical procedure or in an accident, a plasma transfusion is done to replace the blood that the patient has lost.
This fluid is essential for the heart and for circulation. However, it does not contain platelets or proteins that are necessary substances to transport oxygen to tissues, to close wounds and to fight infections. Only blood transfusions can provide these elements.
Who needs a blood transfusion?
People who lose a lot of blood during a surgical procedure or after an accident may need a blood transfusion.
Especially, people who have a low blood count (value) and people with heart disease, circulation problems and other serious diseases are more likely to need a blood transfusion.
Do anesthesiologists perform blood transfusion?
Anesthesiologists perform about half of the blood transfusions in the United States and are experts in making an assessment of the risks and benefits during a transfusion.
Anesthesiologists are committed to using blood responsibly.
How can a surgical intervention be prevented on the wrong side? An intervention on the wrong side is not common, Anesthesiologists know very well that even a single case of this type of error is too much.
What the patient can do to prevent this error from occurring is to make sure that the consent form is filled in correctly and that it includes the area in which the intervention will be performed.
What is a spinal block or regional anesthesia?
A spinal block is often used to help patients undergo painful procedures.
Regional anesthesia refers to the introduction of a small needle into the sheaths containing the cerebrospinal fluid. Local anesthesia temporarily paralyzes the lower half of the body.
What is the epidural?
The epidural is often used to relieve pain after surgery and during delivery. The epidural consists of introducing a small needle in the back. A small tube (catheter) is then placed near the nerves leaving the spinal cord.
Some medications are injected through the catheter and in this way a specific region of the body is temporarily paralyzed. Often, the epidural is confused with spinal anesthesia.
When spinal anesthesia is performed, the anesthesiologist inserts a small needle into the back. The tip of this needle reaches where the fluid surrounding the spinal cord is located.
In the epidural, the tip of the needle remains outside the dural sac, in space where the nerves leave the spinal cord.
The procedure is quite annoying, but it is not painful.
Epidural anesthesia is what is done for delivery.
What are the side effects of spinal or epidural block?
The side effects of spinal blockage are: back pain, headache or difficulty urinating.
Other less common side effects are:
Bleeding or infections at the point where the injection was performed and, rarely, nerve damage.
What is manipulation under anesthesia ?
Some patients who have been immobilized for a long time and who have adhesive capsulitis have limited mobility.
The manipulation under anesthesia is a medical procedure in which the anesthesia is performed so that the patient can move the limb without feeling pain or stiffness.
What are the risks of anesthesia?
Nowadays, anesthesia is very safe. Occasionally, anesthesia can cause some complications (such as cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory problems, allergic reactions to medications and even death).
The risks depend on the type of procedure, the patient’s condition and the type of anesthesia used.
It is important that the patient talks to the doctor, the surgeon or the anesthesiologist so that they provide all the necessary information.
Generally, most complications can be prevented simply by providing the anesthesiologist with all the necessary information before the intervention:
- The patient’s past and current clinical condition (which includes recent illnesses, such as flu and other illnesses such as night snoring or depression)
- All medications (with or without a prescription), supplements and herbal remedies used by the patient.
- Possible allergies, especially food allergies, allergies to drugs or latex.
- If the person smokes, drinks alcohol or uses drugs.
- Any reactions to the anesthesia that the patient or any member of his family has had.
To ensure maximum safety during surgery or during the medical procedure, it is extremely important that the patient responds honestly and in detail to all questions asked by the anesthesiologist. Even information that may seem useless to the patient may be essential to know how he reacts to anesthesia.
It is very important to respect the doctor’s recommendations about things that the patient should not do before the intervention.
The doctor is likely to tell the patient not to eat or drink (usually nothing to drink or eat after midnight the day before the operation) and it may be necessary for the patient to stop certain medications or supplements based on herbs for some time before surgery.