Anesthesia Can be Serious

Anesthesia is not always required. Sometimes a local can be used or a different type of Anesthesia can be used with lesser effects. Whether going for an outpatient procedure or to the hospital for surgery, we tend to learn about the Surgeon/doctor but not the anesthesiologist. He or she will be taking you into unconsciousness, regulate your breathing and bringing you back again. Along with the surgeon, he/she is critical to your surviving surgery without complications.

Sedation goes along a continuum from local anesthesia to deep sedation. Monitoring how we are doing is critical while the surgeon is removing or fixing the cause for surgery. For older people this is particularly important to prevent breathing problems (Joan Rivers), oxygen to the brain and overdosing from the anesthesia itself. Things can get messy very rapidly. Note that some older adults experience some dementia following anesthesia.

Did you know that some inhaled anesthesia medications can trigger an inherited disorder known as malignant hyperthermia, which can be fatal?  There is a diagnostic test for this by taking a biopsy of muscle in the thigh.

Tips for positive outcomes include:

~Before surgery- give your doctor, the anesthesiologist and nurses your complete medical health history.

~When checking your surgeon’s credentials do so for the anesthesiologist and his/her team.

~If you have responded badly to anesthesia before, let your medical team know.

~When having a procedure at an outpatient center or office, verify that they are licensed and accredited for surgical procedures.

~Review your medical history and all medications, OTCs and supplements you take with the surgeon and anesthesiologist.

~You should make an appointment with your primary doctor for medical clearance before surgery. Let them do blood work and evaluate you for any heart, respiratory conditions, including a family history for Diabetes and other major illnesses.

Unless you are going in for emergency surgery, take the time to evaluate your surgeon, anesthesiologist (plus the team) and come clean about all medications, substances and medical history, yours and a family snapshot.

Anesthesia affects different people in different ways. It can be especially difficult on elderly adults or Older Seniors. After a parent’s surgery, you may wish to consider having a caregiver stay with them in the hospital and the first night or two at home to make sure there aren’t any adverse, lingering effects of the anesthesia.