General anesthesia is the most commonly used form of anesthesia. It uses medicine to produce sleep for patients having surgery. During general anesthesia, patients have no pain, no dreams, no sense of time going by. Comfort is perfect. All awareness is gone. An anesthesiologist is constantly in attendance while a patient receives general anesthesia.GasMach.JPG (37247 bytes)

Most general anesthetics start in the operating room after the patient has moved to the operating table and blood pressure cuff, heart monitor and pulse oximeter have been gently attached to him. Sometimes patients are frightened of being awake, even for a short time, in the operating room and request to be asleep before they enter it. This request is usually denied, because the anesthesiologist wants to have the patient in the operating room where he has all his tools for providing safe anesthesia before he helps the patient start to sleep.                                                                                

   Anesthesia Machine                                   marianne copy.JPG (29247 bytes)

                                                               

General anesthesia usually starts with an injection of medicine called an induction agent into the tubing of the intravenous. This medicine washes with the intravenous solution into the patient’s bloodstream and starts him very quickly, comfortably and easily off to sleep. Beginning to sleep this way is quick, painless and non-threatening. The induction agent lasts only about five minutes. It just provides a comfortable way to get started to sleep.

After the patient begins to sleep and is totally unaware, the anesthesiologist assists him in breathing anesthetic medicine. The medicine breathed is the "motor" of the anesthetic, and continues until the surgery is finished. It is called an inhalation anesthetic.                                                Marianne

After a patient is anesthetized and totally unaware, other devices may be attached to him. Breathing devices are often used. A urinary catheter is often inserted. A nasogastric tube may be inserted through a nostril and down into the stomach. Special monitors may be put in place. It is important to know that you may wake up with devices attached to you which weren't’t present when you went to sleep. This doesn’t mean something went wrong, it just means that these tools are necessary to care for you, and it was more comfortable for them to be attached while you were asleep.

All anesthetics have risks, but modern general anesthetics are remarkably safe. The risk of mortality is about 1 in 200,000 - similar to the risk of riding a commercial jetliner. It may be that if you rode on I95 on your way to surgery, that was your most dangerous activity the day of your surgery.