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Information for patients who require an anaesthetic

Before your operation or examination

If you are being admitted to hospital, your anaesthetist will normally visit you in the ward before your operation or examination. Therefore it is important you remain within the ward area until you have been seen by your anaesthetist. The anaesthetist will assess your fitness for the anaesthetic and operation, and may request some extra tests or investigations. Your anaesthetist will need to know about previous anaesthetics you may have had, whether you have any allergies, and also about any medications you take, including the oral contraceptive pill.

If you or a family member have had difficulties with anaesthetics in the past, be sure to let the anaesthetist know. It is also vital that you tell the anaesthetist about any heart, chest or blood pressure problems you may have, whether you smoke, and about things like heartburn and indigestion, if they are troublesome.

In rare circumstances, further investigations or treatments might be required and it may be necessary to postpone the operation to a later date.

The anaesthetist will discuss the anaesthetic with you, and if required what methods of pain control you can expect during and after your operation.

You may be prescribed medication to take before the operation - a 'pre-med.'  This often includes a sedative, and may be given by mouth or as an injection, one to two hours before the procedure.

If your operation or examination is in the morning, you must not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before. If the procedure is in the afternoon, you will be allowed tea and toast up to 7:30am on the morning of the operation. Please do not chew gum or suck sweets while fasting. In certain circumstances the anaesthetist may advise you to continue to drink water up until 2 hours before the anaesthetic.

Your anaesthetic

Depending on the nature of your operation or examination, you may receive a general anaesthetic, in which case you will be fully asleep. Or you may have a local anaesthetic - which involves 'numbing' the area of operation so that you should feel no pain or discomfort.

Before the operation, you will be taken from the ward to the anaesthetic room, where you will see the anaesthetist again. If you are having a general anaesthetic you will receive a small injection in the back of your hand to administer the anaesthetic. You may be asked to breathe oxygen through a facemask as the anaesthetic takes effect.

Once asleep, you will be taken into the operating theatre where the anaesthetist will remain with you throughout the procedure. He or she will ensure you stay asleep and will monitor your safety and well being for the duration of your operation.

After your operation or examination

After your operation or examination you will be taken to the recovery room where a team of specially trained nurses will look after you. If you have had a general anaesthetic you will remain in the recovery room until you are fully awake. If you have any pain following the procedure, the recovery nurses will be on hand to administer pain relief. Your anaesthetist will prescribe analgesics (pain relief). Once you return to the ward, the nursing staff or the Acute Pain Team will help to ensure your comfort in the first few days after your operation.

Help your anaesthetist to help you

  • Smoking is bad for you.  Smoking can cause serious complications both during and after your operation. It is vital that you stop smoking as soon as you know you are coming into hospital.

If you would like help to stop smoking, call the NHS Grampian Smoking Advice Service on
0500 600 332.

  • If you have a cold or a cough, or are in any way unwell, please telephone the ward the day before coming into hospital. The ward staff will advise you on whether to come in for assessment or whether your operation will need to be postponed until your symptoms clear.
  • If you have any questions or worries about your anaesthetic, please ask the anaesthetist when you see them before your operation.

Further information is available from the Royal College of Anaesthetists' website: Link opens in new windowwww.rcoa.ac.uk