Surgery: The Anaesthetic Room


Many of you will have already had first hand experience of surgery and some of you might be expecting surgery at some point during your journey. 

As an Anaesthetic Practitioner, I’d like to tell you what to expect in the anaesthetic room.

On your day of surgery, a Doctor called an Anaesthetist will come and speak to you about what they're planning to do and the risks of whats involved. They might even ask you to show them the back of your mouth to see how wide you can open your mouth - they do this with everyone and it's nothing to worry about. They will check your details against your consent forms and make sure you're fit for surgery.
Once it is time for your surgery you will be walked to the Operating Theatres. It is here that you will meet me: an ODP who will show you to your anaesthetic room and make you comfortable on a trolley/bed. I will then proceed to check you in to ensure you're the right person having the right procedure on the correct site. I will ask you:
  1. If you understand what's being done today
  2. If you have any allergies
  3. If you've taken out contact lenses, dentures, piercings/ if you have permanent metal work
  4. When you last had something to eat or drink
  5. If you have any more concerns
I will then attach a oxygen saturation probe stick or clip on your fingernail to measure how saturated your body is with oxygen (aiming for 100). Also a blood pressure cuff and some ECG dots to see your heart trace and rate.
Myself or the Doctor will put a small plastic cannula into the back of your hand (or a large one with local anaesthetic) and this will be slightly uncomfortable for you. We don't always get it in on the first attempt but we will do our best to reassure you.
We will then give you some oxygen to breathe in deeply and ask you to think about something lovely/somewhere else you'd rather be than here. This mask is quite large and can smell like plastic. While you're breathing into our mask we will give you a painkiller that makes you feel like you've had a few glasses of wine, some people really enjoy this and some don't. I'd advise that you just 'go with it’, and think of tranquil settings such as being on a beach, and that will help you relax into it.
Then, we will give you a sleep ‘induction agent’ called Propofol. Many of you will know this as the cause of Michael Jacksons death, however, in that scenario it was used inappropriately. Propofol is a fantastic drug that works very effectively, it's quite viscous so can sometimes cause a small sting going up your arm. My advice is to imagine that it is really cold rather than a sting and count down from 10 seconds. In that time, you should be very much asleep.
We will then give you a muscle relaxant and pop a tube in your throat to help you breathe throughout your procedure. You will not be aware of any of this and you will also not be aware of your procedure, nor will you remember much of your experience in the anaesthetic room by the time you wake up. This is slightly different if you're having an Awake Craniotomy and I'm happy to write a post about this procedure if you'd like me to.
There will be a whole team of nurses and doctors looking after you throughout your surgery and it is our job to make sure you're safe, your dignity is preserved and that you're asleep throughout.
You also may wake up with a few more larger cannulas in your arms or even an arterial line which we monitor blood pressure with. As well as this, if your surgery is going to be over 3 hours or your range of movement will be prohibited post surgery then we may put a urinary catheter in for your comfort.
If you have anymore questions then please get in touch and I'd be happy to answer them


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