FAQ Frequently Asked Questions What training has my anaesthetist had? An anaesthetist is a doctor who has completed full medical training and then gone on to complete at least another five years of specialist training enabling him or her to perform the technical aspects of anaesthesia and fully manage all elements of patient care including responding to medical complications. Are there separate fees associated with my anaesthesia? Yes, the anaesthesia service is a separate service to your surgery as a different specialist provides it, so it is billed independently of the surgeon. Depending on the type of health insurance you have, the cost of the anaesthesia service may be wholly covered by your insurance or may incur an additional (out-of-pocket) fee. You will be advised of your anaesthesia fee prior to your surgery. Please ask your anaesthetist if you have any questions about fees. Is anaesthesia safe? Having anaesthesia in Australia is very safe. There have been advances in monitoring, equipments used, medications, training and research. All of these factors contribute to this safety. However, some medical conditions and procedures carry more risks than others, so if anything significant is present, these will be discussed with you prior to your surgery. You can learn more about the risks and complications here. What does the anaesthetist do while I am asleep? Your anaesthetic team consisting of the anaesthetist, anaesthetic nurse and anaesthetic registrar (optional) stays with you the entire time. They do not leave you until after you have woken up safely from your anaesthetic, at which point you will be moved to the recovery room and into the care of a recovery nurse. Whilst your operation is taking place, the anaesthetist monitors all of your vital functions to make sure you are safe and asleep. They will treat any situation that arises and if required will administer a blood transfusion for example. They will also give you painkillers and drugs to treat nausea and vomiting so that you wake up as comfortable as possible. Will I feel any pain during or after my operation? Your anaesthetist will ensure you are pain free during your procedure and will give you painkillers so that you are as comfortable as possible when your anaesthesia ends. Depending on the type of surgery and the patient, some patients will feel discomfort more than others during the immediate post operative period. However, rest assured, you will always have access to appropriate pain relief to ensure a more comfortable recovery. How long will the local anaesthetic effect last? This depends on the type of local anaesthetic used and the region of the body into which it is injected. Typically, anaesthesia can last several hours but occasionally it can last up to a day, after which it will begin to wear off. You will notice either a return of movement or increase in pain, which is when you will need to take or be given pain relief. This can be done in tablet form or by injection. What are the side effects of anaesthesia? Nausea and vomiting can occur and is more common after certain types of surgery. Prolonged drowsiness can also occur and may last up to a day after the procedure. It is important that patients do not drive, operate dangerous equipment, or sign anything important during this time. A sore throat is also possible and can last a day or two after surgery. Although these side effects are relatively common, none of them are dangerous. The more dangerous side effects are rare. Your anaesthetist is trained to deal with them and will discuss any that are relevant to you. How long must I fast for before surgery and why do I need to fast at all? The general guideline is as follows: No solid foods (including milk) for 6 hours prior to the operation No drinks for 4 hours prior to the operation No water for 2 hours prior to the operation The reason for fasting is to prevent unwanted food or liquid that may be unconsciously aspirated (inhaled) into your lungs. If you had food or liquid during this period, your operation may be delayed for your own safety. When can I eat and drink again? In many cases you can start drinking soon after you wake up and food can be started an hour or two after that. This can vary with the type of surgery and the staff caring for you will advise you. Can I smoke before surgery? You should avoid smoking for a minimum of 8 weeks before surgery. However, this may be impossible for some people. It may be a good opportunity to meet your family doctor to discuss quitting options. It is especially important that you do not smoke 12 hours before your surgery. This will help you achieve the best possible results from your surgery and also reduce the chance of anaesthetic complications. Should I take my regular medications on the day of my operation? You should tell your surgeon and your anaesthetist about all of your medications, including over-the-counter and herbal medications. They will advise you on what to continue taking. Many medications should be taken as usual with a sip of water even during the fasting period. Blood thinning medications such as aspirin, clopidogrel and warfarin and diabetic medications such as metformin, novorapid, lantus and protaphane should be stopped or modified before the operation. These will need to be discussed with your anaesthetist and surgeon prior to your surgery. Can herbal medicines, vitamins or other supplements affect my anaesthesia? Yes, some herbal medicines and supplements (such as garlic, ginger, and fish oil) can affect bleeding tendency or blood pressure control. Please discuss any of these products with your anaesthetist.