Anesthesia for same-day surgery
BATON ROUGE - Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Anthony Stephens visited our 4 p.m. broadcast to talk about the inherent advantages of modern anesthesia techniques for making elective surgery safe and easy. The doctor says anesthesia has been something that makes people considering elective surgery shy away from the procedures they really want because they are afraid of the risk involved with the sedation. He says modern anesthesiology has advanced to the point where not only is anesthesiology much less risky than it once was, but many elective procedures also can be performed in an outpatient, same-day manner.
Surgeons are now using short-acting anesthetic medications and sophisticated technology that makes outpatient surgeries a much more realistic and cost-effective option that was not available up until recently. Performing surgeries in this way often allows patients to leave the medical facility on the same day as their surgery so that they can continue recuperating in the comfort of home while avoiding costs that insurance may not cover.
Dr. Stephens says elective same-day surgery can range from a few minutes to a few hours. Procedures like these are usually performed in the ambulatory surgery center and may use any forms of anesthesia: local anesthesia with intravenous sedation, regional nerve blocks and general anesthesia. Dr. Stephens offered a some words of guidance to prepare yourself or a loved one for a same-day surgical procedure with hopes of putting the potential patient at ease. Here's his guide:
The Preoperative Visit
In order to achieve a clear understanding of your specific medical needs, the anesthesiologist must obtain information regarding your current physical condition prior to the surgery. Dr. Stephens said the consultation with the anesthesiologist will occur during this initial visit. Key metrics about your health will be gathered through blood, laboratory tests and other preliminary examinations such as EKG or X-rays.
This prior evaluation gives the patient the chance to discuss their medical history and the various anesthetic options according to patient health and the type of procedure. It also gives the person who is about to have the procedure performed on them the chance to ask other pertinent questions to the attending anesthesiologist. Dr. Stephens advises patients to learn as much as they can about the safety precautions offered by the anesthesiologist at this time.
Bring a list of all medications that you take on a regular basis or have taken recently when you come to the preoperative visit. It is important to know the dosage information from the medication label on your list (commonly shown in milligrams or "mg"). Your anesthesiologist needs to have the most detailed medical history possible to make sure he or she makes the right choice when it comes to anesthetic options.
For the majority of procedures, you will be told to fast the night before your operation. Dr. Stephens says it is very important that you follow this instruction and avoid drinking or eating anything during the instructed period from your anesthesiologist.
The Day of Surgery
According to Dr. Stephens, the goals of your anesthesiologist for same-day surgery are:
- Provide you with the best medical care possible
- Deliver safe and satisfactory pain relief during your surgery
- Return you to an alert, awake and comfortable state of health so that you may be discharged within a few hours
To achieve these goals, your anesthesiologist must take your current and past medical condition into careful consideration. The type, location and estimated length of the surgical procedure are also key points of consideration.
After surgery, you will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), commonly called the recovery room, where you will be closely watched for any immediate postoperative problems. When you are meet discharge criteria specifically tailored to your overall medical condition, you will be released to be taken home by a friend or family member. Be sure to arrange for a responsible adult to be available for transportation because your coordination and reflexes may likely be impaired for at least 24 hours following your procedure. In that period, normal activities like driving are difficult and should be avoided.
Dr. Stephens stresses that it is very important for you to let nurses or your anesthesiologist aware of any pain or discomfort you may experience after surgery. You shouldn't be reluctant to to tell them how you feel or to ask questions because they need information to make the best decision on how best to help you. You will not be released to go home until you have recovered sufficiently from anesthesia.
Occasionally, some patients need additional follow-up care or experience difficulties after surgery and may need a longer period of observation. This often takes places in a hospital and follows methods that are similar to the postoperative period for a typical inpatient procedure. In these less common cases, observation and treatment in the hospital for the night after the surgery is generally enough and the patient is able to go home the following day unless other complications present themselves.
Overall, Dr. Stephens says the risks associated with same-day surgery anesthesia are diminishing rapidly as technology and medical insight advance. Above all it is most important to follow the directions of health care professionals and there is very little to be concerned about if you are placing your health in the hands of certified, knowledgeable and caring medical professionals. The attached video contains an additional run-down of some things to look out for when preparing for an elective, same-day procedure.