FAQs

Please feel free to ask one of or admin staff or your anaesthetist any questions you may have regarding your operation and anaesthetic.  Click on any of the links below for information.  If you still have questions,  please phone 07 3031 0900

What is an anaesthetist?

An anaesthetist is a specialist doctor who will have undergone a minimum of 13 years of undergraduate and postgraduate training. All of our anaesthetists have, in addition, post fellowship experience in the public and private sector of at least 4 years before joining our group. You are being looked after by a very experienced doctor.

Your anaesthetist is responsible for ensuring you are adequately anaesthetised during your surgery, that your physiological parameters are monitored and normalised, and that your pain is controlled post operatively. Surgery and anaesthesia can have a profound effect on normal body function, and it is your anaesthetist’s job to ensure you are kept safe during your operation.

In addition to ensuring you are looked after in every way during your operation, your anaesthetist is trained to diagnose and respond to any unanticipated complications that may (uncommonly) arise and can in some cases be serious and life threatening.

Every anaesthetic is different depending on the procedure you are having and on your own personal health status and anaesthetic requirements. Your anaesthetist is responsible for tailoring your anaesthetic to your specific needs to ensure the best possible outcome.  An anaesthetic is much more complicated than simply being ‘put under’ and is often a combination of many techniques for anaesthesia and pain control, requiring specialist equipment monitoring and many different medications each with their own dosages, side effects and potential interactions. Your anaesthetist is trained to collaborate all of this information to provide you with a positive experience.

When will I meet my anaesthetist?

Your anaesthetist will meet you usually on the day of your surgery.  They will take a detailed history and perform a relevant examination, and will spend time with you answering any questions you may have. Your anaesthetist may want to know about:

  1. Any previous problems with anaesthesia you may have had, particularly airway management issues, injuries, difficult iv access, or side effects such as nausea and pain.
  2. Abnormal or particularly life threatening reactions to medications and any allergies.
  3. Medical problems, particularly any heart or lung problems, diabetes, sleep apnoea.
  4. Any recent or current illnesses.
  5. Any medications that you are taking including herbal medications and particularly regular strong pain medications
  6. Any loose teeth, capped teeth, dentures, veneers or retainers that we need to be careful of.
  7. If you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn, particularly if it is severe.
  8. If you are a smoker or have excessive difficulty breathing when exercising.

What should I do with my usual medications?

Take your normal prescribed medications at the usual time with a small amount of water, regardless of whether you are fasting. This is particularly important for those patients taking heart medications and blood pressure medications. Please let your anaesthetist know which medications you have taken that day.

Depending on what surgery you are having, your surgeon may ask you to stop blood thinning medications (eg. aspirin, warfarin, Xarelto, Pradaxa, Iscover, Plavix, ). Usually this can occur without a problem, provided your blood thinners are recommenced when safe to do so, after your surgery.  In some situations, for example if you have had a previous heart valve inserted, you may be required to cease your blood thinners and take a different one prior to surgery.  Usually your surgeon will have arranged fort his to occur in conjunction with a cardiologist if this is necessary.  If you have any questions about your blood thinners please contact Narcosia Anaesthesia Group for more information.

How long should I fast?

  • You should fast for a minimum of 6 hours prior to elective surgery.  This applies even if you are only having ‘twilight’ sedation and not general anaesthesia.  Fasting is important to ensure your stomach is empty, meaning there can be no aspiration of stomach contents into your lungs.
  • You are able to have water up until 2 hours prior to your surgery.
  • Breastfeeding infants can have breast milk 4 hours prior to surgery, but no food for 6 hours.
  • Do not chew gum on the day of your surgery.
  • If you are having morning surgery, we advise you fast after you have had dinner the night before.  If you feel it will help, you can eat again before going to sleep, but do not have breakfast in the morning.

If you are having afternoon surgery, this will usually commence at 1pm.  You should have breakfast that day, but only if you are able to finish eating by 7am, to ensure an adequate 6 hour fast after this.

On some occasions the fasting requirements will differ from those above, for example if you are having bowel surgery you may have ceased solid food much earlier than 6 hours before.

You will be informed prior to your surgery if there are specific fasting requirements.

Could I wake up during my anaesthetic?

Awareness under anaesthesia is a known complication, and occurs in roughly 1 in 1000 anaesthetics.  In most of these cases the recall is brief, hazy, and painless.  It is more likely to occur if you are having coronary bypass surgery, Caesarean section under general anaesthetic or emergency trauma surgery.  Elective surgery is lower risk for awareness, and your anaesthetist will be employing multiple techniques to reduce the chances this will occur.  This includes the use of a monitor for anaesthetic depth (Bispectral Index monitor), the measurement of the amount of anaesthetic that is entering your body and the amount that is leaving, and the careful vigilance and monitoring of vital signs looking for clues of an adequate depth of anaesthetic.

What are the risks?

The important thing to remember is that overwhelmingly, anaesthesia is very safe and is performed thousands of times each day across Australia without major problems.  However complications are always possible, and range from minor but common, to major but fortunately quite rare.

Nausea and vomiting is a relatively common complication of anaesthesia.  People who have had this before are very likely to experience this again, however your anaesthetist can minimise the nausea and vomiting you get by using special techniques or preventative medication. Mild nausea and vomiting occurs in 1 in 4 patients without preventative measures with women are 3 times more likely than men to have nausea and vomiting.

Pain is common after surgery, but will have been reduced significantly using local anaesthesia or intravenous pain relief administered during your anaesthetic.  Your anaesthetist will try to make sure that you wake after your operation as comfortable as possible. However, people vary greatly with their pain relief requirements, and occasionally extra pain relief is required in in the recovery room.

Sore throat is a common side effect of general anaesthesia resulting from the placement of a breathing tube while you are asleep.  The longer your procedure, the more likely you will have a sore throat afterward. This small amount of throat discomfort and/or hoarseness of your voice may last for a few days and is rarely persistent.

Dental damage is a rare complication of general anaesthesia.  It is however more likely to occur if your dentition is already loose or unhealthy.  It is important that you let your anaesthetist know if you have loose teeth, crowns or bridgework. Damage requiring intervention is approximately 1 in 5000.

Nerve damage can occur while you are asleep, if you have been positioned in a specific way for your surgery.   Some nerves can be compressed or stretched with this positioning, and while every care is taken while you are asleep to ensure nerves are protected, on rare occasions nerve damage can occur. Most nerve injuries recover, however there is a small risk of permanent injury.  The risk ranges from 1 in 1000 to 3000

Other complications such as heart attack, stroke, eye injury, death, occur extremely rarely in elective surgery.  Awareness under anaesthetic occurs in 1 in 1000 cases.

I have a cold or flu

Nobody wants to have their operation cancelled, but safety is paramount.  When patients have illness, each case is treated on its merits, and deciding to proceed or not will depend many factors, including your surgeon and anaesthetist’s preferences, the procedure you are having and the characteristics of your illness.  The risk with illness prior to surgery is that post operative complications are more likely, and that your infection may be passed on to other patients.

Generally, it is better not to go ahead with elective surgery if you are very unwell.  Indicators of a severe infection include high fevers, phlegm production, disturbed appetite, diarrhoea, and will usually lead to postponement of your procedure.  On the contrary, a slight cough or runny nose when having minor surgery will usually not lead to cancellation.

Your anaesthetist will usually endeavour to proceed with your operation, but will always err on the side of your safety primarily.

years of undergraduate and postgraduate training. All of our anaesthetists have, in addition, post fellowship experience in the public and private sector of at least 4 years before joining our group. You are being looked after by a very experienced doctor.Your anaesthetist is responsible for ensuring you are adequately anaesthetised during your surgery, that your physiological parameters are monitored, and that your pain is controlled post operatively. Your anaesthetist will be focused on ensuring you are looked after in every way during your operation, and is trained to diagnose and respond to any unanticipated complications that may (uncommonly) arise. Every anaesthetic is different depending on the procedure you are having and on your own personal health status and anaesthetic requirements. Your anaesthetist is responsible for tailoring your anaesthetic to your specific needs to ensure the best possible outcome.An anaesthetic is much more complicated than simply being ‘put under’ and is often a combination of many techniques for anaesthesia and pain control, requiring specialist equipment monitoring and many different medications each with their own dosages, side effects and potential interactions. Your anaesthetist is trained to collaborate all of this information to provide you with a positive experience.

How can I reduce the chance of problems?

There are things you can do to reduce the chance of an anaesthetic related problem, particularly if you have some time before your surgery date:

Quit smoking for at least 8 weeks prior to your surgery, which will reduce the risks of post operative respiratory complications.  Do not quit smoking if your surgery is less than 48 hours away

See your GP to have your preexisting medical problems evaluated and optimised. If it has been some times since your last check up you may find that your heart or lung disease can be improved, or diabetic control can be optimised.

Lose weight and increase your fitness.  Obesity universally increases the risk from both anaesthesia and surgery.  Exercising to lose weight and increase fitness before your operation will reduce the risks intraoperatively and aid your recovery.

What should I bring to hospital?

For same day surgery, please bring with you

  • All your medications or a list
  • Your surgery consent form if you have it, and your RETURN COPY if you haven’t already returned it
  • Any x rays or scans you have on you relating to your surgery
  • A responsible adult to collect you after your surgery as you will not be able to drive yourself home
  • Your medicare and insurance details

What about make up and nails etc?

Generally you should remove anything you weren’t born with and leave it at home.  This includes:

  • Make up
  • piercings
  • contact lenses

Other more permanent additions such as artificial nails and false eye lashes can usually be left on, but may be damaged during your procedure.

Patient checklist