FAQs

We are often asked the questions below. Our blog contains detailed posts for each of these topics.

We will be adding further useful information on the blog to help ensure you can be well prepared for your procedures.

How do you know when to wake me up? Will I wake before the end of the surgery? How do know how long to keep me asleep?
An anaesthetic is started (induced) by either injecting an anaesthetic drug or allowing the patient to breathe anaesthetic gas/vapour. This usually takes between 1 and 3 minutes. Once a patient is asleep, the anaesthetic is continued (maintained) by using a continuous infusion of an anaesthetic drug into the vein or by ventilating the patient with the anaesthetic gas/vapour. The anaesthetic agent that is used for such an infusion is most commonly the drug propofol (diprivan).
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Why does the anaesthetist ask me to open my mouth and look at my teeth as part of the anaesthetic assessment?
With the induction of anaesthesia, most patients lose the ability to maintain an open airway and almost invariably stop breathing. If left unattended, a patient will desaturate (falling oxygen levels in the blood) within a 1 – 3 minutes. The primary responsibility of the anaesthetist is to prevent this happening and to maintain adequate ventilation for the patient. There are various manoeuvres the anaesthetist will use and this frequently involves using an airway device such as a laryngeal mask or an endotracheal tube.
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What is anaesthesia?
Anaesthesia is a relatively recent scientific invention. However the need to perform various surgical procedures has existed for thousands of years. The archaeological record contains evidence of the Egyptians making openings in the skull on what appears to have been living individuals. Surgical need arose in situations where there were fractures of bones and abscesses.
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What is an anaesthetist?
Anaesthesia is a relatively recent scientific invention. However the need to perform various surgical procedures has existed for thousands of years. The archaeological record contains evidence of the Egyptians making openings in the skull on what appears to have been living individuals. Surgical need arose in situations where there were fractures of bones and abscesses.
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Does the anaesthetist stay with me during my anaesthetic?
Monitoring the patient is the cornerstone of safe anaesthesia. The ability to administer anaesthesia with minimal risk is largely due to the increased number and improved quality of physiological monitors that have been developed in the last 3 decades. In the early days of anaesthesia, monitoring consisted of observing a patients colour and having a finger on the pulse. Although this forced the anaesthetist to pay extremely close attention to the patient it is somewhat akin to flying an aircraft at night without an instruments. This section will provide a brief outline of the various forms of monitors used in modern day anaesthesia and their application in everyday practice.
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How safe is anaesthesia?
One of the first questions in anyone’s mind when they are about to have an anaesthetic for a surgical procedure is “what can go wrong?” People want to know what complications can happen and how frequently these occur. In the initial stages of anaesthesia and surgical procedures 160 years ago, there was significant risk associated with the undertaking. However improving the safety of medical interventions has always been at the centre of medical attention and this has resulted in a vastly improved safety record in modern medicine. However no procedure is without risk and in the following section, the risks and complications of anaesthesia will be outlined.
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What is the chance of dying under an anaesthetic?
One of the first questions in anyone’s mind when they are about to have an anaesthetic for a surgical procedure is “what can go wrong?” People want to know what complications can happen and how frequently these occur. In the initial stages of anaesthesia and surgical procedures 160 years ago, there was significant risk associated with the undertaking. However improving the safety of medical interventions has always been at the centre of medical attention and this has resulted in a vastly improved safety record in modern medicine. However no procedure is without risk and in the following section, the risks and complications of anaesthesia will be outlined.
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What is the chance of waking up during an anaesthetic (awareness)?
The potential of being aware while having a surgical procedure under general anaesthesia is a common and legitimate fear for many patients. The objective of a general anaesthetic is to induce a state of unconsciousness/hynosis through the use of drugs during which time the patient will have no awareness of the operation and there will be no subsequent recall or memory of these events. Awareness under anaesthesia can be defined as a period during the operation where a patient is conscious and will have recall of the events after waking from the anaesthetic. It is a complex topic because consciousness and memory formation is incompletely understood by scientists who study this subject. In this section an explanation of the current understanding of this topic will be presented.
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I always vomit after an anaesthetic. Can anything be done to prevent this?
Post Operative Nausea and Vomiting (PONV) is a relatively common problem after surgical procedures under general anaesthesia. It is often described as the “Big little problem”. By this it is meant that it is a big problem because it is common and causes much distress to patients. It is a little problem in that it not life threatening and is usually of limited duration. The problem cannot be denied as some patients fear it more than the postoperative pain or even having a heart attack.
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I’m scared of being in pain after the operation. What pain relief is available?
Pain is a complex bodily response to a noxious or damaging stimulus. It represents on of the basic responses that any living organism must have as it is a fundamental survival need to be able to remove or defend oneself against such stimuli. A pain stimulus can take the form of heat, pressure, disruption of tissues and so forth. Pain is also experienced when damage has been done to tissues in the body is results from the inflammatory response to such damage.
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