General anesthesia is a combination of medications that put you in a sleep-like state during a surgery or other medical procedure. Under general anesthesia, you don't feel pain because you're completely unconscious. General anesthesia usually uses a combination of intravenous drugs and inhaled gases (anesthetics).
Before having an operation, during a preoperative assessment, you and your Kentucky Anesthesia Group anesthesiologist will discuss which anesthetic is most suitable for you. Your medical history will be discussed and you will be asked whether anyone in your family has had problems with anesthesia. Your general health and lifestyle will also be discussed. Your anesthesiologist will inform you about what to expect during your surgery and discuss anesthetic choices with you. Our anesthesiologists work with each patient individually to determine which combination of medications is best, depending on your state of health, your other medical conditions, the medications you take, any allergies, and the type of surgery you are having.
General anesthesia is more than just being asleep, though it will likely feel that way to you. General anesthesia suppresses many of your body's normal automatic functions, such as those that control breathing, heartbeat, circulation of the blood (such as blood pressure), movements of the digestive system, and throat reflexes such as swallowing, coughing, or gagging that prevent foreign material from being inhaled into your lungs (aspiration). Because these functions are suppressed, your Kentucky Anesthesia Group anesthesiologist must carefully keep a balance of medicines while watching your heart, breathing, blood pressure, and other vital functions. Your body's vital functions will be monitored and your breathing will be managed.
The most frequent side effect of general anesthesia is drowsiness afterward. This typically goes away within the first hour or two after surgery ends. Some patients may experience a sore throat or nausea. If you have a history of nausea after prior operations, be sure to mention that, as you may need medication before surgery to help prevent nausea afterward.
Once your surgery is complete, your physician anesthesiologist will reverse the medication and be with you as you return to consciousness, continually monitoring your breathing, circulation, and oxygen levels. Some patients feel fine as they wake up; others experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or chills. Your throat may be sore from the breathing tube. Your physician anesthesiologist will help you manage these symptoms.
If you are able to go home the day of surgery, you will not be able to drive after having general anesthesia. It may take a day or two for the anesthesia medication to completely leave your system, so you may be sleepy, and your reflexes and judgment may be affected. General anesthesia can affect your memory, concentration and reflexes for a day or two. You'll also be advised to avoid driving, drinking alcohol and signing any legal documents for 24 to 48 hours.
Our anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists (CRNA) at Kentucky Anesthesia Group are committed to putting every patient at ease before every procedure. For more information, contact our office at (859) 268-1030.