What is General Anesthesia?

General Anesthesia is a technique during which the patient is rendered unconscious. General Anesthesia provides analgesia (you have no pain), amnesia (you are unaware and have no memory), and relaxation (your muscles are relaxed to give the surgeon better operating conditions). General Anesthesia is usually started and maintained by giving the patient an intravenous drug (into a vein), an inhalation drug (a gas which you breathe), or a combination of both. The anesthesia provider will monitor the progress of the surgery and the depth of your anesthesia. The depth of anesthesia can be changed by increasing or decreasing the amount of drug given. As the surgeon finishes the procedure, the anesthesia provider reduces the depth of anesthesia so the patient will awaken at the end of the procedure or shortly thereafter.

What can I expect with General Anesthesia?

For a typical general anesthetic, you may experience the following. When you arrive, you will be changed into a gown and prepared for surgery. An intravenous line will be started. After you have spoken to the anesthesia provider, sedation may be given. When the operating room and your surgeon are ready, you will be taken to surgery. In the operating room, monitors for your breathing, heart, and blood pressure will be placed on you. You will be asked to breathe through an oxygen mask for a few breaths as the anesthetic is given through your intravenous line (IV). The next thing you should remember is awakening in the recovery room. You may be a little confused when you wake up in the recovery room, but that should improve as the anesthetic clears. If you have any pain, you will be given pain medications through your IV. When you have recovered sufficiently from your anesthetic, your pain is under control, and your vital signs are stable, you will be transferred to your hospital room or prepared to go home.