Your procedure

To assist in understanding your procedure and recovery requirements we have prepared a list of questions you may like to discuss with your doctor:

  • What is involved in my treatment/procedure?
  • What should I expect during my recovery period?
  • How long will my recovery take?
  • Will there be activity restrictions after leaving hospital?
  • Will I need physiotherapy?
  • Will I need rehabilitation?

Understanding your anaesthetic

People often think of general anaesthesia as sleep. However, that’s not strictly true. Rather, the anaesthetist puts you into a state of carefully controlled unconsciousness. This is done so that you will not be aware of the surgery. No chance is taken during this period. All your body systems are carefully and constantly monitored by your anaesthetist.

Afterwards, we want you to experience as little pain and discomfort as possible. Your anaesthetist will discuss with you your options for pain relief after your surgery.

Your role

There are some things you can do to make your anaesthetic safer:

  1. Get a little fitter – even a regular walk will work wonders.
  2. Don’t smoke – ideally, stop at least 2 weeks before surgery. Call the Quitline 13 78 48.
  3. No more than one standard alcoholic drink within 24 hours of surgery.
  4. If you have any kind of health problem tell your anaesthetist and surgeon so they are fully informed.
  5. If you are anxious and have questions, make an appointment or request to speak to your anaesthetist before admission to hospital and get the answers you need.
  6. Inform your surgeon/anaesthetist if you object to blood transfusions.
  7. Inform your surgeon, anaesthetist or consultant physician if you have any problems passing urine which have or have not been investigated or if you have had previous bladder or prostate surgery.
  8. It is really important to bring your medications to the hospital and a current medication list from your GP or pharmacist.
  9. If possible, bring any recent reports of relevance such as stress test, angiogram or lung function test.

What should I tell the anaesthetist?

Your anaesthetist will visit you before the operation, to talk with you and perform a relevant examination. Depending on the type of operation, this may not occur until immediately beforehand.

The anaesthetist will want to know:

  • How healthy you are, if you have had any recent illnesses and also about any previous operations.
  • Abnormal reactions to any drugs, or whether you have any allergies.
  • Any history of heart or lung problems or any other medical conditions.
  • Whether you are taking any drugs at present – including cigarettes and alcohol – and, for women, whether they are taking the contraceptive pill. If you are taking prescribed medications, bring them along.
  • If you have any loose teeth, wear dentures, caps or plates. Note, if you do have expensive dental work, it may be wise for you to consider getting a mouth guard to protect your teeth.

The anaesthetist wants to have the best possible picture of you and your present condition so that the most suitable anaesthetic can be planned. Answer all questions honestly - it is all about minimising risk to you.

Is fasting really necessary? Yes!

The Pre-Admission Nurse will call you the working day before your admission to give you your fasting times. Fasting means no food (including chewing gum) for the specified period before the operation or procedure. However WATER can be consumed up to 2 hours prior to your surgery, unless otherwise instructed. Water will help maintain hydration and ensure a quicker recovery.

Unfortunately tea and coffee are considered foods. You can only have them before surgery according to your food fasting times. If you have taken food within the specified fasting time, your procedure may be postponed.

After the operation

Your anaesthetist will continue to monitor your condition carefully, well after the surgery is finished, to ensure your recovery is as smooth and trouble free as possible.

Once awake, you will feel drowsy. You may have a sore throat, a period of shivering, feel sick or have a headache. These are temporary and will soon pass. To help the recovery process, you will be given oxygen to breathe, encouraged to take deep breaths and to cough.

Don't worry if there is some dizziness, blurred vision or short-term memory loss. It usually passes quite quickly. If you experience any worrying after effects, you should contact your anaesthetist.

The Mater Hospital thanks the Australian Society of Anaesthetists for allowing part reproduction of their information brochure 'Anaesthesia & You.'