Anaesthesia - what to expect

If you are having major surgery then you will receive a phone call a few days before you are due to come in where we discuss your general health and any concerns you have about the anaesthetic.

For smaller and day case procedures, the anaesthetist will see you on the day of surgery, either in the day stay unit or on the ward. After a discussion about your general health, fitness and regular medications you will be asked to sign a consent form to agree to have an anaesthetic for your operation.

When you arrive in theatre, you will be introduced to the theatre staff and we will do our final checks before starting.

Monitoring to look at your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and brain wave activity is attached. A small line is inserted into a vein through which fluid rehydration and any medication you need during surgery is given. When everyone is ready, the anaesthetic medication is given through the line and you fall asleep. While asleep, you will have a small breathing tube inserted through your mouth to keep your airway safe during the operation and once you are warm, safe and secure, Jane will start the operation.

At the end of surgery, the anaesthetic agents that are keeping you asleep are turned off and as they wear off, you will wake up. The breathing tube will still be in your mouth and you will hear the anaesthetist calling your name, asking you to take some slow deep breaths and open your mouth so the tube can be removed. Very few people remember this stage. Once you are breathing well without the tube, we transfer you to your hospital bed and move you through to recovery, where you are monitored closely until you are awake enough to move through to the ward or to second stage recovery prior to going home.

What about pain?

We have lots of different options for pain relief following surgery. All patients are prescribed a range of pain relieving medications which can be taken by mouth or given directly into the drip. Every patient will have a pain management plan formulated which may be as simple as taking regular paracetamol for a few days, or as complicated as specialised pain management pumps where you press a button to give yourself a dose of pain medicine - and you can press as often as you need to. Some patients who have had operations involving a larger cut into the tummy may have some very small tubes inserted at the end of the operation into the muscle layer, through which we give local anaesthetic. This is called a PainBuster system and stays in place for up to 5 days after surgery.

Anxiety - What if clients are anxious about their intended procedure?

We understand that having an operation can be a very stressful time. If you have any concerns which you would like to discuss with the anaesthetist before your admission, please don't hesitate to contact Jane. If needed, we can arrange to see you at Nelson Day Surgery (132 Collingwood Street) or Manuka Street Hospital prior to your admission to talk through your concerns, sign any paperwork necessary and prescribe a calming pre-med for you to be given on arrival.

Katie Ben

Dr Katie Ben

Dr Katie Ben is an anaesthetist who works with Jane at Manuka Street Hospital and kindly provided the information below relating to anaesthesia.

As anaesthetists - either general (where you are asleep) or regional (where the part that is to be operated on is made numb with injections of local anaesthetic) - our role is to assess each patient prior to their procedure to decide on the most appropriate type of anaesthetic, discuss the options with risks, side effects and benefits and help the patient decide which they would prefer.

In theatre, we monitor all patients closely and maintain their heart rate, blood pressure and breathing within normal limits. We use a variety of medication for pain relief and to combat nausea or sickness after the operation and prescribe a range of pain relief options for the recovery and ward nurses to use later. Warming blankets are used to keep you at a normal temperature and to try to prevent post-operative shivering.

We look after people of all ages, from the very well to the very sick, across a wide range of surgical specialities. You can relax knowing that you will be kept safe during surgery and wake up at the end, comfortable and ready for your first cup of tea.