Your Anaesthetic

Your Surgeon will contact Dorchester Anaesthetists on your behalf to arrange a Consultant Anaesthetist. You will meet your Consultant Anaesthetist on the day of your operation.

Your anaesthetist will take a medical history from you, listen to your preferences and discuss with you the options. They will also be able to advise you what in their experience and opinion, would be the most appropriate anaesthetic technique for your comfort and safety. Your Anaesthetist will be very happy to answer any questions you may have. In addition to your pre-operative assessment a small number of patients may be required to attend anaesthetic assessment clinic with a Consultant Anaesthetist before their admission. The hospital will contact you to arrange an appointment if this is required.

What is an Anaesthetic?

There are 4 different types of anaesthesia: General, Regional, Spinal and Local.

The type of anaesthetic chosen by your anaesthetist depends on the type of operation you are having, your level of fitness and your own preferences. Sometimes the different types of anaesthetic techniques are used in combination.

1. General Anaesthesia

A small plastic tube (cannula) will be placed into a vein on the back of your hand, wrist or in your arm and following a few breaths of oxygen, you will drift off to sleep. You are put into a state of unconsciousness and you will be unaware of anything during your operation. Your anaesthetist achieves this by giving you a combination of medicines. While you are unconscious your Consultant anaesthetist remains with you at all times, monitoring your condition. They will give you pain relief and may perform a regional block. Your surgeon may also give you local anaesthetic around the area where they are operating to reduce your discomfort when you wake up.

After your surgeon has completed the procedure, you will be taken to recovery where you will wake up in the presence of one of our trained recovery staff.

General anaesthesia works well for most people. Whilst we use the most advanced anaesthetic agents and analgesics, it can leave you with a sore throat for a few days and may be associated with nausea and feeling drowsy afterwards.

For patients with significant health problems, we may choose to admit you to our High Dependency Unit after your procedure for observation. Your anaesthetist will discuss this with you on the day.


2. Regional Anaesthesia

Regional anaesthetic blocks involve placing local anaesthetic near to the nerves that supply the area of your operation. The local anaesthetic may also cause temporary weakness in the part of body that is numbed.

Your anaesthetist will discuss the options, risks and benefits with you during the anaesthetic visit prior to your operation.

They are most commonly given in addition to a general anaesthetic, but can be used alone (particularly with hand surgery) or with sedation.

Regional anaesthetics are generally very safe and reduce the need for strong, morphine-like pain killers which may be associated with side effects such as drowsiness, nausea and vomiting.

Just as for General Anaesthesia, your Consultant Anaesthetist remains with you throughout the operation monitoring your anaesthetic state throughout. After your procedure you will go to the recovery area until it is safe for you to return to your room.


3. Spinal Anaesthesia

A small injection into the back makes you completely numb from the waste down giving excellent pain relief without the need for strong pain killers.

Your anaesthetist will discuss the options, risks and benefits of a spinal anaesthetic with you where appropriate during the anaesthetic visit prior to your operation.

Spinal anaesthetics are very commonly used for hip & knee replacements and for major bowel surgery.

Spinal anaesthetics can be used alone, with sedation or with a general anaesthetic.

Benefits include better pain relief immediately after your operation and less risk to you if you suffer with certain heart or lung conditions.

Spinal anaesthetics last for a few hours, after which they wear off. Your anaesthetist may suggest a regional anaesthetic block in addition to your spinal anaesthetic, or ask the surgeon to put local anaesthetic around the site of your operation to reduce your need for strong pain killers after your operation.

Occasionally an epidural or a caudal anaesthetic may be appropriate and again your anaesthetist will discuss this with you before your operation.


4. Local Anaesthesia

With local anaesthesia the local anaesthetic medicine is injected into the skin and tissues at the site of the operation. Local anaesthesia is used for minor operations and may be given by your surgeon.

Sedation for Medical and Surgical Procedures

Sedation involves the administration of medicines which reduces anxiety, makes you sleepy but avoids a general anaesthetic. Whilst sedated you will be closely monitored by your anaesthetist and your level of sedation controlled for your comfort. Examples of procedures commonly performed under sedation include: gastroscopy, colonoscopy, facet joint injections, caudal and lumbar epidurals. Sedation allows you to undergo these procedures in comfort. Most often, patients hardly remember anything about the procedure.

Sedation is also commonly used during hip and knee surgery which is being performed under a spinal anaesthetic.

Further information is published by The Royal College of Anaesthetists and The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland at the following website