Your anaesthetist will discuss with you the type of anaesthetic which is appropriate for you and your surgery. This will be determined by the surgery itself and in some instances by your general health. The types of anaesthesia are:
- General anaesthesia. This is when you are put into a state of carefully controlled unconsciousness. You will be in no pain and you will be unaware that the surgery is taking place. Often a tube is put into your airway while you are asleep to assist with your breathing.
- Regional anaesthesia. This is when an injection of local anaesthetic is placed around the spinal cord (a spinal anaesthetic), around the nerves as they exit the spinal cord (an epidural anaesthetic) or around a specific nerve (a nerve block). Your anaesthetist may combine these anaesthetics with a general anaesthetic or with intravenous sedation.
- Eye block. This is a special type of regional Anaesthesia that is used for operations on the eye. There are several different methods to ‘numb’ the eye for surgery, most involve injecting local anaesthetic around the eye. These injections are usually performed with intravenous sedation (see below) so that you are relaxed and not completely aware during the injection.
- Local anaesthesia. This is when local anaesthetic is injected at (eg for removal of a skin cancer) or dropped onto (eg for cataract surgery) the area of surgery. Your anaesthetist may combine this with general anaesthesia or intravenous sedation.
- Intravenous sedation. This is when your anaesthetist gives you a drug or combination of drugs which may make you relaxed, sleepy and may make you forget your surgical experience. Because this is not a general anaesthetic you may be aware of some of the things which happen during your operation eg you may hear people talking. This is quite normal during this type of anaesthetic. At all times you will be comfortable, relaxed and in no pain. You will be able to tell your anaesthetist if you have any concerns during your operation.
Your anaesthetist will be with you at all times during your anaesthetic. They will be keeping a careful watch on you with the use of heart, blood pressure and breathing monitors. Your anaesthetist will be adjusting your anaesthetic, providing pain relief and fluids as required. They will also monitor and treat any medical illnesses you may have or that arise during the procedure eg asthma, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or allergic reactions.