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Anesthesiology Patient Care at VA Puget Sound:
Preparing for Surgery

If you are scheduled for surgery at the VAPSHCS, please read the following information
to prepare you for anesthesia.

Pre-Anesthesia Visit

Once your surgeon has scheduled your surgery, you will visit the Pre-Anesthesia Clinic to make sure you are in the best possible condition to undergo anesthesia. You will meet with a nurse practitioner or anesthesiologist and given the opportunity to ask questions or make requests. Anesthesia provider will give a general preview of what type of anesthesia to expect and the risks and benefits involved. You will have an opportunity to go over this information again on the morning of surgery when you meet with your anesthesia team.

There are three basic types of anesthesia to maintain comfort and safety during surgery:

This type numbs a small part of the body. For example, a dentist will numb part of your mouth when you get a filling or have a tooth pulled. A physician might numb your finger to put stitches in a cut. Your anesthesiologist may offer sedation with this type of anesthesia to reduce anxiety.
This type numbs a larger area of the body, such as a leg or arm. The most well-known kind is an epidural. Many women have epidurals to block pain when they are in labor. Your anesthesiologist may offer sedation with this type of anesthesia to reduce anxiety.
This type produces an unconscious state. You might breathe in medicine through a mask or it may be injected into your intravenous drip.

During your pre-anesthesia visit we will also review your medical history and medication list, and a limited physical examination will be performed. If you have had tests or care delivered outside of the VAPSHCS, please bring records or results for review.

We may draw blood tests, record an electrocardiogram, or other tests depending on your surgical procedure and health status. This is an important part of your pre-anesthesia visit as it will help us deliver the safest care and best recovery.

At the conclusion of your pre-anesthesia visit we will provide you with instructions about medications to take or withhold around the time of surgery, and instructions about withholding food and drink before surgery.

The Day Before and Morning of Surgery

Unless you are told otherwise, the day and evening before surgery, you may eat normally and take your usual medicine.

However, do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before or morning of your surgery. You may not have food, candy or gum. All you may have is small sips of water in the morning, but no later than 2 hours prior to your surgery. This helps reduce the chance of vomiting and/or inhaling stomach acid or food into your lungs during your surgery. If you do eat prior to surgery, your procedure may be rescheduled or cancelled until a later date.

Swallow pills you have been instructed to take the morning of surgery with only sips of water.

Please do not wear make-up, cologne, or perfume on the day of your surgery, and remove all jewelry and piercings. Leave valuables at home. Do not bring any of your medications unless told to do so during your pre-operative visits.

If you have sleep apnea and use CPAP, please bring your machine with you on the morning of surgery.

On the day of surgery your anesthesia team will place an intravenous line and review the risks and benefits of your anesthetic. If you are going home on the day of surgery you must arrange for an adult to drive you home.

After surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room to wake up from general anesthesia or any residual sedation.

While you slowly wake up from anesthesia, you may feel cold and nauseated. Your mouth may be dry, and your throat may be sore if a breathing tube was used during surgery. If you have had a regional or local anesthetic that

numbs just a portion of your body, that part of may be numb until the anesthetic wears off. You may have a catheter in your bladder — this is normal for some procedures.

A nurse will check your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure frequently. He or she will help you with any nausea and/or pain you may feel. It is important that you are comfortable. Please be sure to ask the nurse for pain relief before the pain gets too severe.

Please DO NOT do any of the following for 24 hours after receiving anesthesia of any kind:

  • Drive or travel alone
  • Drink alcoholic beverages
  • Operate machinery
  • Sign any legal documents
  • Be responsible for another person, such as a child.

After Surgery

Your anesthesia and surgical teams will assess you and ensure that you are recovering normally prior to being sent home or to the hospital ward.

Your surgical team will provide with you instructions, any necessary medications, and a follow-up appointment as needed.

Please do not hesitate to voice any questions or concerns before or after your surgery.