Anaesthesia allows you to be pain free and comfortable during your operation. Sometimes this involves a general anaesthetic which is a state of controlled unconsciousness controlled by medication during which you will not feel pain or remember anything. This is often referred to as ‘going to sleep’ for your operation. However, anaesthesia does not always mean that you have to be unconscious as modern anaesthetic techniques can numb certain parts of your body such that you will not feel any pain whilst still being able to remain awake. These techniques can numb a small part of your body (local anaesthesia), an entire arm or foot (nerve block) or the lower part of your body from the waist down (spinal or epidural anaesthesia). There are lots of benefits to having a procedure done in this way and for some orthopaedic operations, such as hip and knee replacements, these have become the most common types of anaesthetic. They can often be accompanied by sedation if required for your comfort. Sometimes however these techniques are not the best option for you and a general anaesthetic will suit you better or indeed the operation cannot be done without you having a general anaesthetic.
You will hear more about the anaesthetic options for your intended operation when you attend your pre-operative assessment. Please ensure you pick up a copy of any relevant information leaflets and take time to read through them. You may also be given the opportunity to watch a video prior to your operation if you are having a knee or hip replacement.
Your preferences are important and you will be given the opportunity to discuss the risks and benefits of the anaesthetic options available to you. In some instances you may be asked to attend the hospital specifically to see an Anaesthetist if the specialist nursing staff in the pre-operative assessment clinic feel this would be of benefit to you, but in most cases you will meet your Anaesthetist on the day of surgery.
Details about what to expect and the potential side effects and complications of the different Anaesthetic options are outlined in the document link below ‘Anaesthesia: What you need to know’. Please take the time to read it so you are better prepared for the day of your surgery.
Patient information leaflet - Anaesthesia: What you need to know
Anaesthesia: What you need to know (video)