Once a decision to perform an operation is made, you will be sent to a preassessment clinic where various tests would be carried out to ensure you are fit to undergo the surgical procedure, in most cases, under a general or regional anaesthesia. This is done to screen for any potential health related problems.
You will be examined after taking a detailed history with particular emphasis to past medical problems, previous operations and problems with anaesthetics if any, etc. Screening tests range from simple things like taking blood pressure to sophisticated laboratory tests if deemed necessary. Any co-existing health problems are optimised if possible prior to general anaesthesia. You will also meet your anaesthetist on the day of surgery to discuss any issues arising.
Modern anaesthesia is extremely safe and harmless. It is statistically safer to undergo general anaesthesia than fly in a passenger airplane. The risks of complications are extremely small. This is largely due to the fact that there is a team of highly qualified and experienced medical professionals looking after you before, during and after surgery.
General anaesthesia implies that you are completely unaware of what is going on and all you will remember is going off to sleep after an intravenous injection and then waking up after surgery is over.
The anaesthetist will be present all the time while you are asleep, closely monitoring the situation and your well-being and insuring optimal conditions for a surgeon to perform the procedure. Close observations and care will continue even after you awake to ensure adequate pain relief and speedy recovery. Most of the modern anaesthetic drugs wear off very quickly after the operation is complete and you should be back to normal within a 1-2 hours.
Postoperative pain relief
Many people have concerns regarding pain relief following their surgery and in particular epidural analgesia. Firstly, epidural is only one of the ways to keep you comfortable following your surgery. Other methods include oral pain-killers and intravenous self-administration of Morphine (patient –controlled analgesia). Secondly, epidural is very safe providing you are looked after by a highly trained anaesthetic staff. Epidural anaesthesia is an invasive technique that involve insertion of a tiny plastic catheter into your low or mid back and has side effects including rare ones like headaches and nerve damage (only 1:12000 chances of that happening).
More commonly patients can get heavy legs and low blood pressure, which are completely expected, reversible and manageable in hospital settings. In those cases when an epidural fails to work properly (1:12) you will be switched onto an alternative method of pain relief.