Frequently Asked Questions

ANAESTHESIA AND ANAESTHETISTS

  • What is anaesthesia?

    Anaesthesia is used to remove aspects of pain and discomfort associated with surgery. Anaesthesia manages pain, conscious awareness & memories of the experience. This is achieved by administering different medications that keep you asleep or relaxed.

    More information about specific types of anaesthesia can be found below.

  • What does an anaesthetist do?

    Your surgeon or proceduralist usually focuses on the area of your body that they’re working on. Your anaesthetist is making sure the rest of you is looked after by monitoring your wellbeing throughout the surgery, as well as continues the administration of drugs, pain relievers and ensuring your body’s systems (like breathing and heartbeat) continue working as well as possible. They will be with you from the commencement of your procedure, watching over you until you begin to wake up from your anaesthetic.

    For more information please refer:
    asa.org.au/during-your-anaesthetic

  • What training does my anaesthetist have?

    An anaesthetist is a specialist doctor. They have completed medical training plus at least 6 years in Anaesthetic training. All of the anaesthetists are Fellows of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, which is awarded to doctors after the completion of vigorous exam processes.

    For more information please refer:
    asa.org.au/patient-information/what-is-an-anaesthetist

  • What type of anaesthesia will I have?

    The type of anaesthesia used will depend on the nature and duration of the procedure, your general medical condition, and the care recommendations of your anaesthetist and the proceduralist.

    Your anaesthetist may use a combination of different types of anaesthesia.

    General Anaesthesia

    General Anaesthesia (GA) is a reversible drug-induced state of altered consciousness, similar to sleep. Modern general anaesthetics include the management of breathing & circulation, pain, nausea & vomiting, temperature & hydration management. Vital organs are monitored throughout the process to ensure an optimal outcome.

    Sedation

    Sedation or ‘twilight anaesthesia’ is similar to General Anaesthesia but lighter, and should make you feel relaxed, drowsy and comfortable. It is utilised for shorter & less extensive procedures. The recovery is also much faster.

    Regional Anaesthesia

    Regional anaesthesia is a process where a local anaesthetic or numbing agent is introduced close to a nerve, to make that specific area numb and free of sensation or movement. It can be used by itself, with sedation or with general anaesthesia. It can be used for a large variety of procedures. Your anaesthetist will discuss this with you prior to the procedure.

    Examples of regional anaesthesia include epidurals for labour, spinal anaesthesia for caesarean section, ‘eye blocks’ for cataracts and peripheral nerve blocks that make a limb or part of a limb numb.

    Local Anaesthesia

    Local Anaesthesia involves the injection of a local anaesthetic or a numbing agent directly into the area being operated. It can be completed with or without sedation. This is a discussion you will have with your proceduralist.

    For more information on the types of anaesthesia, please refer:
    asa.org.au/patient-information/types-of-anaesthesia

    During the course of your procedure, your anaesthetist will give you a number of different medications – usually somewhere between three and fifteen. For further information on the types of medication used by your anaesthetist, refer to this information sheet.

  • Can I choose my anaesthetist?

    Your surgeon may work with a number of different anaesthetists on a regular basis. On any particular day, your surgeon will generally work with the same anaesthetist for all patients.

    If you would like to arrange a different anaesthetist for your surgery, you should discuss this with your surgeon. They may be able to reschedule your surgery to a date they are working with a different anaesthetist.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?

  • What do I need to do before surgery?

    Good preparation for your anaesthesia can make a significant difference and ensure that the day runs smoothly.

    Prior to the day of surgery, you will be given fasting guidelines – when to stop eating and drinking. The presence of food or liquid in the stomach poses a significant risk during your procedure. Not following the fasting instructions, can result in procedure cancellation. If you have significant medical concerns, then you must inform your surgeon so they can inform your anaesthetist to allow planning, investigations, and the possibility of a pre-procedure anaesthetic consultation.

    If you are having a day procedure, with general anaesthesia or sedation, you cannot drive home. PRIOR to the day of surgery you MUST arrange for a friend or family member to collect you and take you home after your procedure. You MUST also have someone at home with you overnight. You MUST inform the surgeon prior the surgery if this CANNOT be organised to arrange alternatives.

    asa.org.au/what-you-can-do-to-help anzca.edu.au/patient-information/anaesthesia-information-for-patients-and-carers/preparing-for-your-operation
  • What happens on the day of surgery?

    Your surgeon’s rooms will be in touch to advise you of your admission time and give guidance on what to bring to the hospital. Depending on the facility you may be taken straight into the operating theatre or to a smaller room next to the theatre where you will meet the anaesthetist and the process begins. Monitoring devices such as a blood pressure cuff will be placed, and an intravenous line placed.

    Once you are taken into the operating theatre the anaesthetic plan will begin. Typically drugs are administered through the IV cannula. The combination of drugs is tailored to each patient and is based on several factors such as your age, weight and general health.

    Your anaesthetist will remain by your side for the duration of the procedure to ensure you remain anaesthetised throughout the procedure.

  • What happens after surgery?

    Once the procedure has been completed, you will slowly regain consciousness. You will be placed in a recovery area where a specialist nurse will look after you until you have fully regained consciousness, managing any needs you have regarding your immediate recovery.

    If you are having a day procedure, with general anaesthesia or sedation, you cannot drive home. PRIOR to the day of surgery you MUST arrange for a friend or family member to collect you and take you home after your procedure. You MUST also have someone at home with you overnight. You MUST inform the surgeon prior the surgery if this CANNOT be organised to arrange alternatives.

    Following any form of anaesthesia, it is recommended NOT to perform complex duties or make profound decisions for at least 24hrs as the anaesthetic can alter your cognitive and physiologic functions. Recovery will depend on the duration and complexity of the procedure, your age, your health status and any surgical or anaesthetic side effects.

  • What should I tell the anaesthetist?

    Depending on your procedure, you may either speak with your anaesthetist in the days prior to your procedure or not until immediately before your procedure. Additionally, you may be sent an email with a questionnaire to complete online. Your anaesthetist will review your answers prior to your procedure and may contact you if they want any further information.

    Your anaesthetist will ask questions regarding your medical history, medications (including over-the-counter and herbal remedies), previous experiences with anaesthesia, smoking status and alcohol and drug intake.

    It is important that you are honest when answering all these questions as they are designed to ensure that you receive the most appropriate care.

    Please bring all your current medications in their original packaging.

    It is essential you advise both your surgeon and anaesthetist if you are experiencing any new illness, including coughs, colds, sore throats, fever, listlessness, diarrhoea and vomiting. Your surgeon, along with your anaesthetist, will weigh up your need for the procedure alongside the risks associated with these symptoms. If your surgery is delayed, then an optimal time for rescheduling will be suggested.

  • Is fasting really necessary?

    It is vitally important that you follow the fasting information given to you. Your surgeon will usually provide you with this information. Food or fluid in the stomach may be vomited and enter your lungs while you are unconscious. If you don’t follow this rule of fasting, the operation may be postponed in the interests of your safety.

    IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED SPECIFIC FASTING INSTRUCTIONS FROM YOUR SURGEON/PROCEDURALIST OR HOSPITAL, PLEASE FOLLOW THOSE INSTRUCTIONS.

    IF YOU ARE HAVING A COLONOSCOPY, YOU MUST FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS PROVIDED BY YOUR GASTROENTEROLOGIST.

    As a general guide FOR ADULT PATIENTS:

    • If your operation is in the morning, you must not have anything to eat after 12 midnight. You may drink water up to 2 hours prior to the time you have been asked to attend the hospital.
    • If your operation is in the afternoon, please have a light breakfast prior to 7.30 am. Do not eat or drink anything after this time except for water which you may continue to drink up to 2 hours prior to the time you have been asked to attend the hospital.
  • What risks should I be aware of?

    Although anaesthesia is generally very safe, any kind of medical intervention comes with risk. These risks can be short & long term, common & rare, mild & more severe. Some procedures and medical conditions carry more risk than others. Your anaesthetists will run through the risks they may foresee during your procedure.

    Please make sure that if you have previously experienced any anaesthetic complications, you flag this with your anaesthetist. If you have any other questions regarding specific risks, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    For a more detailed explanation of risks associated with anaesthesia, please visit this link from the Australian Society of Anaesthetists.

  • What factors make anaesthesia riskier?

    Your anaesthesia risk might be higher if you have or have ever had any of the following conditions:

    • Allergies to anaesthesia or a history of adverse reactions to anaesthesia
    • Diabetes
    • Heart disease (angina, valve disease, heart failure, or a previous heart attack)
    • High blood pressure
    • Kidney problems
    • Lung conditions (asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD)
    • Obesity
    • Obstructive sleep apnoea
    • Stroke
    • Seizures or other neurological disorders
    • Smoking, or drinking two or more alcoholic beverages a day, also increases your risk.

SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

  • Do I need to stop taking any of my medications?

    This will depend on which medications you are currently taking. Some prescribed medications (like blood pressure tablets) are safe to take right up until 2 hours before your surgery with water.

    Others like insulin, diabetes medications, blood thinners, fish oil, herbal supplements and weight loss injections may need specific management.

    Please contact us or your surgeon to alert them ahead of time to manage these medications.

  • I take diabetes medication. Can I keep taking it?

    Management of diabetes medication before surgery can be complicated. You will need to discuss with your medical team the best way to manage your insulin or oral medications, and you will be given specific advice.

  • What do I do if I have a sore throat or other cold symptoms?

    It’s important to be as healthy as possible before an anaesthetic and you should contact your surgeon’s office if you feel unwell in the days leading up to your surgery. Your surgeon and anaesthetist will weigh up the need for your operation against how unwell you are feeling and they will make a decision on whether to proceed. Patient safety is always the guiding principle.

  • Can I drive home after my day procedure?

    If you are having a day procedure, with General Anaesthesia or sedation, you cannot drive home. PRIOR to the day of surgery you MUST have arranged for a friend or family member to collect you and take you home. You CANNNOT rely on a taxi or Uber. You MUST also have someone at home with you overnight. You MUST inform the surgeon prior the surgery if this CANNOT be organised to arrange alternatives.

  • Do I need to remove my acrylic nails?

    Your acrylic nails and nail polish may interfere with the monitoring instruments. We recommend you give us a call if you have acrylic nails that you wish to keep on during your procedure to confirm that your anaesthetist is happy with this.

  • Do I need to quit smoking?

    There is strong research to prove that smoking significantly increases the risk of complications during anaesthesia. Quitting smoking at any point prior to your procedure can make your anaesthetic safer and your recovery faster. For further information and advice on this, please read the following resources:

    ANZCA – Anaesthesia and Smoking
    QLD HEALTH – Smoking & Surgery

  • I am breastfeeding – what do I need to do?

    You will be able to breastfeed up until the time of surgery. And once you are conscious following surgery, breastfeeding is usually safe. Please discuss this with your surgeon and anaesthetist.

    For more information please refer:
    ASA – Breastfeeding after Anaesthesia pdf.

  • What do I do if I have other concerns/specific questions?

    If your question has not been answered by the information above, please feel free to give the administration team a call on 07 3847 4477. Our office is open Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 5:00pm.