We use general anaesthesia for many surgical procedures including general surgery, orthopaedics, trauma, urology, gynaecology, ENT, breast, vascular, maxillofacial, cardiothoracic and neurosurgery.
General anaesthesia is a state of controlled unconsciousness where you are given medications to send you to sleep. This is so that you are unaware of surgery and don’t move or feel pain during your operation.
What to expect
An anaesthetist will meet you before your operation to decide with you if a general anaesthetic is the best choice.
The anaesthetic is usually injected into your veins through a cannula (a small plastic tube). It can also be given as a gas that you breathe through a mask.
At the end of your operation we will stop the anaesthetic, and you will gradually wake up. Depending on your surgery you will need to stay in hospital for a few hours or a few days to recover.
Anaesthetics can affect your memory, concentration and reflexes. It’s important to have adult supervision for at least the first 24 hours after a general anaesthetic.
Getting ready for your anaesthetic
We will give you clear fasting instructions before you come into hospital; it’s important to follow these.
After we admit you on the ward, an anaesthetist will come to talk to you about your medical history and talk through the anaesthetic plan. Your plan will depend on:
- The operation you are having and your physical condition
- Your preferences and the reasons for them
- The recommendation of the anaesthetist
- The equipment, staff and resources available at the hospital.
A member of staff from the operating team will go with you to theatre. They will do some final checks such as asking your name, the operation you are having, when you last ate or drank and your allergies. You may be asked the same questions several times. Don’t worry, these checks are normal in all hospitals.
This video showing your operating theatre journey may answer a lot of your questions about what will happen on the day of surgery:
Side effects and complications
In modern anaesthesia, serious problems are uncommon. Any medical procedure has risk, but modern equipment, training and drugs have made anaesthesia much safer.
Your anaesthetist will talk through any worries you have. If you are worried about anything, please ask.
- You and Your Anaesthetic (RCOA)
- Caring for someone who has had a general anaesthetic or sedation leaflet (RCOA) – essential reading for anyone who will care for friend or relative who has had a general anaesthetic.
- Infographic on the types of risks of anaesthesia (RCOA)
- Contraception advice for Patients following the administration of Sugammadex