Note: Much of the following information is expanded upon in the "Preparing for Surgery" and in the "Anesthesia Frequently Asked Questions" sections on this website.
Anesthesia services at the Ambulatory Surgery Center will be provided by a division of the Department of Anesthesiology at Stony Brook University Medical Center. We utilize the anesthesia care team approach consisting of a board-certified anesthesiologist and certified nurse anesthetist who will care for you throughout your stay. A senior Anesthesia Resident may also participate in your care. We believe that a team approach will provide maximum patient safety.
Special anesthetic agents and anesthetic techniques are chosen to provide a speedy recovery and allow you to go home soon after your operation is complete. There are four main types of anesthesia:
- General Anesthesia - the patient is not conscious and has complete loss of sensation. Basically this involves inducing sleep of your whole body, and your brain.
- Regional Anesthesia - local anesthetic is injected by the anesthesiologist to provide numbness and loss of sensation to a large region of the body. This could include spinal anesthesia, epidural anesthesia, upper and lower blocks and intravenous regional blocks. Additional intravenous medication may be given to make you comfortable and drowsy. These techniques often assist with the management of post operative pain.
- Monitored Anesthesia Care - during this type of anesthesia care the surgeon usually injects local anesthetic to the site of surgery to provide numbness and loss of sensation. The anesthesiologist then supplements this with intravenous medication to make you comfortable and drowsy. You will be monitored by the anesthesiologist as closely as you would be with a general anesthetic.
- Local Anesthesia - local anesthetic is injected by your surgeon to provide numbness and loss of sensation to a small area. There may be no anesthesia team member with you. These procedures may sometimes be performed in a surgeon's office.
We sometimes offer a combination of these modalities of anesthesia.
Your anesthesiologist will interview you prior to the procedure. This usually takes place on the day of surgery, but for special reasons some interviews will be initiated before the day of surgery. The anesthesiologist will ask questions about your medical history and review any laboratory tests that have been done. You and your anesthesiologist together will then formulate an anesthetic plan. You will discuss anesthetic choices including risks and benefits. The anesthetic plan will be tailored specifically for you by taking into account your general medical condition, the type of surgical procedure and your preferences. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss any concerns that you may have with your anesthesiologist.
In the Operating Room
In the operating room, your anesthesiologist is uniquely qualified and personally responsible for directing your anesthetic. Anesthesiologists are medical specialists who ensure your comfort and make informed medical decisions to protect you. Your physical status is closely monitored. Vital functions such as heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, temperature and breathing are managed. A member of the anesthesia care team will be with you throughout your procedure.
Recovery After Surgery
You will be taken to the post-anesthetic care unit, often called the recovery room. Your anesthesiologist will direct the monitoring and medications to ensure your safe recovery. Your vital functions will be closely monitored by specially trained nurses. Medications to minimize postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting are given as needed. Nausea and vomiting tend to be less of a problem today because of improved anesthetic agents and techniques although it still occurs quite often. When you are ready, you will be offered something to drink. A family member or friend may be allowed to be with you, and you will be assisted in getting up. Most patients are ready to go home between 1-4 hours after surgery. Oral and written instructions will be given. You will also be given a telephone number to call if you have any concerns when you get home. In general, for the first 24 hours after your anesthesia:
- Do not drink alcohol or use nonprescription medication
- Do not drive a car or operate dangerous machinery
- Do not make important decisions
- You may not be left alone that first day
Be prepared to go home and continue your recovery there. Patients may experience drowsiness or minor side effects such as muscle aches, sore throat, headaches and mild nausea. These usually decline rapidly in the hours following surgery. Most patients do not feel up to their usual activities the next day. Plan to take it easy for a few days. The following day you will be contacted to see how you feel and if there are any problems.
Each patient should be given his or her own instructions. Please note that if you eat or drink when you were not supposed to, you could markedly increase the risks of anesthesia. Please follow your instructions very carefully. See sections on Anesthesia Frequently Asked Questions and preparing for Surgery.
Some medications should be taken and others should not. It is important to discuss this with your physicians. Please bring all your medications with you on the day of surgery.
You must make arrangements for a responsible adult to take you home after your surgery. You will not be able to drive yourself home. You may not be alone the first 24 hours.
Many patients are apprehensive about anesthesia and surgery. If you are well informed, you will be better prepared and more relaxed. Talk with your anesthesiologist and ask questions. Your anesthesiologist is your advocate and is experienced in making your surgery and recovery as safe and comfortable as possible.