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What you need to know about anaesthesia and preparing for your operation

www.rcoa.ac.uk/patient-information

The above link will take you to the Royal College of Anaesthetists website, where you will find comprehensive:

  • answers to frequently asked questions about your anaesthetic
  • information on how to prepare for your operation and different anaesthetics for common operations
  • the risks of anaesthesia
  • resources for children, young people and their carers
  • anaesthesia and perioperative care

The web page also contains a full range of resources including a “Patient Information Series” which includes:

  • Patient information leaflets
  • Video clips
  • Factsheets
  • Easy read and accessible resources

We hope you find this information helpful.

What to expect on the day of your operation

  • You will receive a letter confirming the date of your operation and the time you need to arrive at the hospital, as well as the ward to attend to be admitted for your operation.
  • Your letter will inform you about when to have your last meal and drink.
  • You will have received written advice about your usual medication leading up to surgery at your preassessment – please bring all your usual medication with you to hospital.
  • Your anaesthetist and surgical team will see you before your operation to discuss your anaesthetic and confirm your consent.
  • On the ward the nurse will admit you and confirm your personal details.
  • You will be asked to wear a hospital gown and be given 2 identity bracelets to wear while you are in  hospital.
  • You will be accompanied by a nurse to the operating theatre.
  • In the theatre your identity and safety checks will be performed once more by you, the theatre staff and your anaesthetist.
  • A cannula (plastic tube) will be inserted into a vein on the back of your hand or arm into which the anaesthetist will inject the anaesthetic medicines and pain relief during your operation.
  • Your anaesthetist stays with you during your entire operation, and will wake you up when the operation is complete.
  • After the operation you will be taken to the recovery room for a short time where the nurses will make sure that you are OK when you wake up. They will also give you medicine for any pain or sickness that you might feel.
  • You will then return to the ward.

Common events and risks in anaesthesia

VERY COMMON – MORE THAN 1 IN 10 (Equivalent to one person in your family)

  • Thirst
  • Sore throat
  • Sickness
  • Bruising
  • Shivering
  • Temporary memory loss (mainly in over 60s)

COMMON – BETWEEN 1 IN 10 AND 1 IN 100 (Equivalent to one person in a street)

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Minor lip or tongue injury

UNCOMMON – BETWEEN 1 IN 100 AND 1 IN 1,000 (Equivalent to one person in a village)

  • Minor nerve injury

RARE – BETWEEN 1 IN 1,000 AND 1 IN 10,000 (Equivalent to one person in a small town)

  • 1 in 1,000 Peripheral nerve damage that is permanent
  • 1 in 2,800 Corneal abrasion (scratch on eye)
  • 1 in 4,500 Damage to teeth requiring treatment
  • 1 in 10,000 Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction to a drug)

VERY RARE – 1 IN 10,000 TO 1 IN 100,000 OR MORE (Equivalent to one person in a large town)

The risks we all take in normal life, such as road travel, are actually far higher than the risks below:

  • 1 in 20,000 Awareness during an anaesthetic
  • 1 in 100,000 Loss of vision
  • 1 in 100,000 Death as a direct result of anaesthesia

More information on these risks and how to prepare for surgery can be found on our website here:

www.rcoa.ac.uk/patientinfo/risks/risk-leaflets

Contact details

Pre-assessment Clinic: Telephone: 01274 365758
Level 0, Horton Wing, SLH, Little Horton Lane, BD5 0NA
Opening hours: 7:45am – 4:15pm Monday to Friday

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