What you need to know about anesthesia
Your doctor says you need surgery. Most surgery, no matter how intensive or minor, requires the administration of anesthesia.
Anesthesia is a drug that is introduced by a qualified medical practitioner that induces a loss of sensation in the body. There are several types of anesthesia, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
Local anesthesia is injected into the tissue to numb a specific location of the body, like when the dentist numbs your mouth before oral surgery or other dental procedures.
Regional anesthesia is injected into a cluster of nerves to numb an area of your body before surgery, like when a mother is given an epidural before childbirth.
General anesthesia might be a gas or vapor introduced through a breathing mask or a tube or may be introduced through the veins to make you unconscious. The level of anesthesia is monitored by a qualified/certified practitioner to make sure you are asleep deeply enough and for long enough.
Eating and drinking before anesthesia
Most likely, your surgeon or the surgeon’s office will tell you not to drink or eat after midnight the day of your surgery, according to Anesthesia Associates Northwest, LLC. When going under general anesthesia, certain areas of your body become “paralyzed,” including the swallowing reflex. Any undigested food in your stomach may cause you to “aspirate.” The food may end up in your lungs.
What are the risks of anesthesia?
While there are always risks to surgery and anesthesia, those risks are usually dependent upon the type of surgery and the medical condition of the patient. Your anesthesiologist takes great precautions to prevent adverse events from occurring. Should you have any concerns, make them known to your surgeon or your anesthesiologist.
The California Society of Anesthesiologists’ website contains a patient information link with a risk assessment tool. The website also contains a patient awareness video for those unfamiliar with anesthesia and its risks.
Who is the anesthesiologist?
Your anesthesiologist is a licensed practitioner (a doctor or a certified registered nurse anesthetist) who has completed required education and training. By the time he or she arrives at your surgery site, the anesthesiologist will have obtained all requisite credentials and have substantial experience. In addition, your anesthesiologist will have received specific training in pain management and have:
- Passed the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) (physicians only)
- Obtained a state license
- Obtained certification in anesthesiology
- Maintained a clear professional and personal record including criminal history, substance abuse or major malpractice claims.
Is anesthesia covered by insurance?
Charges for anesthesia and accompanying supplies will appear on a bill from your health care provider. Charges for the anesthesiologist are usually billed separately. According to the type of plan you have, portions of the bill may be covered with the balance being paid by the patient if the deductible has been met, according to Group Anesthesia.