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Preparing for Surgery


Anesthesia for Surgical Patients

Welcome to the Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Department of Anesthesiology. We are group of highly trained physician anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). Our goal is to provide every patient with a safe and comfortable experience.

Before your procedure, we will evaluate you so we can understand your needs and expectations. During the procedure, we will keep you comfortable and provide a safe environment for your procedure. After your procedure is over, we will make sure that you are prepared to go home or to go upstairs to your inpatient room.

There are many different types of anesthesia that you may be offered. Some procedures can be done with different types of anesthesia. Others can only be done with only one type. Your anesthesiologist will discuss the risks and benefits of the available types of anesthesia with you on the day of your procedure. Together, you and the anesthesiologist will determine the best type of anesthesia for you. If you would like to read more about the different types of anesthesia, please explore the anesthesia types listed below.

Types of Anesthesia

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia. Sometimes, people refer to general anesthesia as “going to sleep.” General anesthesia is performed by giving a patient medications through an intravenous (IV) catheter. Once those medications have been given, the patient quickly falls asleep. Once asleep, a soft breathing tube is inserted into the mouth to protect the airway. The patient doesn’t feel the tube, but he or she may have a temporary sore throat afterwards. Occasionally, people can be nauseous when they wake up. People generally feel groggy for a little after a general anesthetic.

Spinal Anesthesia

Spinal anesthesia can be offered to patients having procedures located from the belly button and below. Spinal anesthesia involves the injection of a small amount of medicine into the back after the patient has been given sedation. After the medicine has been injected, the lower half of the patient’s body becomes temporarily numb. Patients are often given medicine to help them relax during the case. Spinal anesthetics have benefits including less nausea afterward surgery, better pain control and patients often feel less groggy.

Sedation (MAC)

Many procedures can be done under heavy sedation. Anesthesiologists refer to heavy sedation as “monitored anesthesia care” or a MAC. A MAC is performed by giving patients medication through an intravenous (IV) catheter. Patients often breathe extra oxygen during the case. The level of sedation in a MAC is deeper than “conscious sedation,” which might be given during a colonoscopy, but not as deep as a general anesthetic. Although it is possible to remember being in the operating room, patients rarely remember anything having to do with the procedure.

Peripheral Nerve Block

A peripheral nerve block is a procedure usually done in the preoperative area before the patient goes into the operating room. During a peripheral nerve block, the anesthesiologist identifies specific nerves in your body, and puts numbing medication around those nerves. Once that medication has been given, that part of the body will become numb. The purpose of the peripheral nerve block is to decrease pain after your procedure. A peripheral nerve block is often the most effective form of pain control. It also allows the anesthesia team to use less narcotic medication, which can make you nauseous and groggy.

Additional Resources

For even more information on your anesthesia, our experts recommend the following articles from the American Society of Anesthesiologists:

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