Anaesthesia

Anaesthesia

All surgery requires some form of anesthesia. This allows your surgery to proceed comfortably. The anesthetist is a doctor that gives you the anesthesia during surgery and will stay with you and monitor you closely throughout your surgery. Your anesthetist will also help you with pain relief during and after surgery. There are two kinds of anesthesia: general or spinal.

General Anesthesia

In general anesthesia, you are fully asleep during surgery. Once you are asleep, a breathing tube is placed in your mouth and throat and you will be kept asleep during surgery. When your surgery is over, your anaesthetist will wake you up and the breathing tube is removed.

Risks in General Anesthesia:

Common: A mild sore throat, sickness (nausea) and drowsiness

Rare: Damage to teeth, regurgitation of stomach contents into your lungs (aspiration), allergic reactions and anaphylaxis.

Spinal Anesthesia

Spinal Anesthesia is given through an injection in your lower back and it is done in a strictly aseptic (clean) fashion. This is done either while sitting up or lying down on the side. After numbing the skin in the back, a needle is used to inject the medication into the spinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord. Once the medication is in, the needle is removed. This procedure freezes the nerves so that there is no feeling or movement in the legs. This numbness is variable but usually lasts about 4-8 hours.

Benefits of a Spinal Anesthetic:

  • There is no breathing tube and so there will not be a sore throat afterwards
  • You will be able to eat and drink immediately after your operation
  • There is a reduced risk of post-operative drowsiness, nausea and vomiting
  • It decreases the chances of blood clots in the leg veins (deep vein thrombosis) and in the lungs (pulmonary embolus)

Risks of a Spinal Anesthetic:

Common

  • Inability to pass urine post-operatively – usually a temporary catheter (tube) is passed into the bladder
  • Low blood pressure

Uncommon

  • Failure of the anesthetic – this will be rectified immediately by the anesthetist with either another spinal injection or general anesthetic with tube
  • Headache

Extremely rare

  • Nerve damage
  • Bleeding around the spinal cord causing pressure on the nerves
  • Infection around the spinal cord

Sunnybrook’s Holland Orthopaedic & Arthritic Centre and Mount Sinai Hospital has developed part of this material and this has been edited by Dr. Michael Drexler.  Permission to add this link to my website has been granted by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s and Mount Sinai Hospital Guides for Patients Having Hip or Knee Replacement.

Sunnybrook’s Holland Orthopaedic & Arthritic Centre and Mount Sinai Hospital has developed part of this material and this has been edited by Dr. Michael Drexler.  Permission to add this link to my website has been granted by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s and Mount Sinai Hospital Guides for Patients Having Hip or Knee Replacement.

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