Care comes first
Our practice provides care to all the private hospital groups in the Southern Suburbs and City Bowl.
We understand that having an operation can be stressful. So to make things feel a little
easier, we’ve put together a few guidelines on what to expect when you arrive at hospital
and what you can expect for the duration of your stay.
- Please bring a list of all the medications that you’re currently taking with you to the
hospital, as well as any blood or other test results that you’ve had done.
- If you’re taking blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin, aspirin (Ecotrin) or
clopidogrel (Plavix) please tell your surgeon. This is very important, as these drugs
may need to be stopped up to 2 weeks before surgery.
- Diabetic drugs should not be taken on the morning of surgery.
- Please get to the hospital early enough to allow yourself plenty of time for the
admission process, which can be quite time consuming
Children and adults:
- Up to 6 hours before surgery – limited solids, milk or solids containing fluids (such
as cereal, etc.).
- Up to 2 hours before surgery – limited clear fluids such as water, energy drinks or
- Babies may have breast milk up to 4 hours before an operation.
Your anaesthetist will come and see you before your operation. Based on your specific
health information and the type of procedure you’re scheduled for, your anaesthetist will
decide which method is best for you.
There are a variety of anaesthetic techniques available ranging from:
- Light sedation where you are awake but relaxed.
- Deep sedation where you are asleep but are able to control your airway.
- General anaesthesia where an airway device is usually required to maintain the
- Local anaesthesia which is is used either in combination with the above, or as the sole anaesthetic technique. The local anaesthetic may be injected by the surgeon at the operation site. A nerve or nerve plexus may be blocked by your anaesthetist to numb a specific part of the body. Or a spinal or epidural injection may be performed to numb a larger area of the body.
Each of these techniques carries associated risks and it is your anaesthetist’s job to plan which method is best for you, taking into consideration your level of health and the scope and complexity of the operation. He or she will discuss this plan with you and answer any questions you may have. The expected course of the operation and post-operative period will also be explained to you at this time.After your consultation a pre-med may be prescribed to ensure that you are calm and relaxed when you’re taken into theatre.
Inside the theatre complex you will be kept in the holding area until the surgeon is readyfor you. You will then be transferred to the operating table, a drip will be inserted andmonitors attached. If an epidural or spinal anaesthetic is performed, it is usually done soat this point. You will be given oxygen via a facemask, and injections or drugs throughthe drip will anaesthetise you. If further monitors such as arterial lines, central venous or
urinary catheters are needed, they will be inserted while you are anaesthetised. Calfcompression sleeves and forced air heating blankets will be applied if necessary andyou will be positioned correctly for the surgery. Your anaesthetist will be at your sidethroughout the duration of the operation, ensuring that you are adequately anaesthetisedand maintaining your physiological parameters at the appropriate levels.If the patient is a child, one parent is usually allowed to accompany him or her intotheatre while the chils is being anaesthetised. To reduce the stress and technical difficulties, anaesthesia is usually introduced by allowing the child to breatheing gases through a mask. Once the child is anaesthetised the procedure continues as describedabove.
After the operation you will be taken to the recovery room where you will be kept until
you are awake. The nurses will monitor your blood pressure and blood oxygen
saturation to make sure that they are stable before discharging you. They will also
ensure that any pain or nausea is controlled before you leave the unit. We assure you,
you will always be in good hands.
If your operation was booked as a day procedure you will be returned to the ward and
your drip removed. You will be able to go home once you have had something to eat
and drink, and passed urine. Depending on the hospital you’re in, you will either be
issued with a prescription for analgesics or have the drugs issued to you by the hospital
pharmacy. It is vital that you arrange for someone to transport you home as you should
not drive – or make any major decisions – for 24 hours after an anaesthetic.
In the case of more complex procedures you may be required to spend a day or two in
hospital as it is likely that you will have wound drains, a urinary catheter, or both. The
drip is usually left running to allow administration of drugs. Regular pain medication is
given either through the drip, or orally, or even rectally and in some cases intermittent
intramuscular injections are all that is required.
Certain operations are associated with more pain and discomfort, and in those cases
you are likely to be given a PCA, or Patient Controlled Analgesia, machine. You will be
given a handset with a button to press, and when the button is pressed the machine will
deliver a pre-programmed dose of painkillers. The machine has a lockout system to
prevent accidental drug overdose.
For complex operations, or if there are any predisposing health issues that concern your
anaesthetist, it is likely that you will go to the High Care Unit or Intensive Care Unit after
the operation. More intensive monitoring is available here and you will only be released
back into the ward once you are stable.
Nausea affects a large number of patients, which is why it’s important to tell your
anaesthetist if you have a personal , or family, history of post-operative nausea and
vomiting. By using specific types of anaesthesia in combination with anti-nausea drugs
we can reduce this unpleasant side effect significantly.
- A sore throat as a result of airway manipulation is sometimes problematic, but is
- Itching can be distressing but for the most part it can be eased by medication.
- “Pins and needles” due to nerve compression is not uncommon and usually goes
away completely within a day or two.
Over the past few decades anaesthesia has become a lot safer thanks to better drugs,
better monitors and more trained anaesthetists administering the anaesthetics. That said
– and despite our best efforts – complications do happen from time to time. Rare
problems include damage to teeth or caps / crowns, airway injury, abrasions to eyes,
soft tissue injury, allergic reactions, bleeding, infection, vascular injuries, pneumothorax,
muscle pains, aspiration of stomach contents, awareness during general anaesthesia,
permanent neurological injury including paralysis and blindness, local anaesthetic
toxicity, cardiac arrest, hypoxia, brain damage and death.
- Anaesthesia is safe.
- Your anaesthetist will match the right anaesthetic to your current state of health and
the complexity of the operation you’re having
- The anaesthetic technique chosen and the optimal use of analgesic drugs after the
operation leads to a high level of patient satisfaction, which is our goal, after all.