Anaesthesia allows painful procedures to be performed without discomfort. It helps you to be comfortable during surgery by temporarily removing pain or reducing sensation. The benefits of anaesthesia need to be weighed against the risks and this balance will depend on your general health and type of surgery. There are many types of anaesthesia. The anaesthetists will discuss which anaesthetic is most suitable for you.
Types of Anaesthesia
General anaesthesia is a state of controlled unconsciousness. In a general anaesthetic, a mixture of drugs is given to keep you unconscious and pain free during the operation. Drugs are injected in to the blood stream via a vein or breathed in the gases in to the lungs. A device is removed when you wake up after surgery.
Regional anaesthesia involves injecting local anaesthetics to numb a specific part of the body to relieve pain or allow surgical procedures to be done. No pain is felt during surgery although it is possible to feel pressure or movements.
The most common types of regional anaesthesia include spinal and epidural anaesthesia where a needle is inserted between the bones of the spine to inject local anaesthetic into cerebrospinal fluid or epidural space. These techniques can also be used for post-operative pain relief.
Other Examples of Regional Anaesthesia:
Interscalene nerve block – local anaesthetic is injected around the nerve as possible without entering the nerve itself. Locating nerves is made possible using a nerve stimulator or a portable ultrasound device. This is commonly used for shoulder surgery.
Supraclavicular nerve block – similar to interscalene block. Can be used for surgery on the upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand.
Axillary nerve block – local anaesthetic is injected under the armpit around the nerves supplying the arm. Can be used for surgery on the hand and forearm.
Femoral nerve block – local anaesthetic is injected into the groin region to numb the thigh. Knee and inside leg. May be combined with a sciatic nerve block to numb the rest of the lower extremity. Can be used for knee surgery.
Local anaesthesia – refers to temporarily numbing an area of the body to be operated on by using a type of medication called a local anaesthetic. This is usually performed for minor procedures. Patient is normally awake or maybe sedated.
Are there any risks from Anaesthesia?
All anaesthesia has some risks and these depend on many factors such as co-existing medical conditions and the type of surgery.
Possible Side-Effects that you may experience after General Anaesthesia:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Sore throat
- Pain or bruising at injection sites
These side effects are dependent on the type of surgery and anaesthesia, are usually transient in nature.
Anaesthesia is very safe. Experts say anaesthesia is one of the safest areas of healthcare today. But even so anaesthesia still poses some risks and most complications can be prevented. Make sure you inform your doctor of all your medical conditions, medications, allergies and previous anaesthetic experience. It is important you follow the doctor’s advice to help you prepare for surgery such as medication to take or to avoid and how long to fast (generally 6 hours for food, milk is classified as food and 2 hours for clear fluid) before surgery.
At London Bridge Hospital we have a total of six Operating theatres each are fully equipped with the latest equipment and technology. We also provide ad hoc outlying areas anaesthesia in Angiography, CT and MRI.
Our team of highly-skilled anaesthetic practitioners prepare anaesthetic room according to the individual needs of the patient and anaesthetist i.e. drug preparation/administration, IV cannulation, preparation and insertion of invasive monitoring as required, induction, intubation ( including difficult airway planned and unplanned). An essential aspect of their work is to ensure anaesthetic equipment is checked in regular basis as per protocol and maintained to the highest possible standard. Our team are committed to produce world class expertise and care by undergoing continuous development and in-house training in anaesthesia and other related topics.
A preoperative visit may be arranged with the anaesthetic department in Main theatres should a patient like to see a member of the theatre team. Although specific medical points must be discussed and provided by the Consultant Anaesthetist or Surgeon.
The following specialist equipment is available to ensure patients always receive the optimum anaesthetic care:
Cardiac and Thoracic Anaesthesia
- Transesophageal probe and monitor
- PK/GH Infusion pumps
- LifePak 20 Defibrillator
- Medtronic Dual Chamber Pacing Box
- Olympus LF-GP Intubating fiberscope
- BIS monitor
- Cerebral monitor: Invos Oximeter Equanox RS02
Spinal and Neuro Anaesthesia
- Schaerer Axis Operating table
- Montreal Mattress
- Mayfield Horseshoe Headrest
- Sonosite portable ultrasound
- Stimuplex nerve stimulator
HepatoBiliary / Transplant Anaesthesia
- PiCCO cardiac output monitor
- LiDcO cardiac output monitor
- Deltex Oesophageal Doppler
Difficult Airway Equipment
- Ambu aScope Flexible Videoscope- Single Use
- Olympus LF-GP Intubating Fiberscope
- Aintree Intubation Catheter
- Airway Exchange Catheter
- Bougie – Adult and Paediatric
- Airtraq – small and regular
- VL Glidescope
- Intubating LMA
- McCoy Blade
- Surgical Cricothyroidotomy Kit
- Troop Elevation Positioner
- Bair Hugger model 775
- Ranger High Flow warming system
- Ranger Pressure Infusor system
- Enflow Fluid warming system
- Tyco SCD/anti-DVT pumps
- Peripheral Nerve Stimulator
- MRI compatible anaesthesia machine
- InvivO MRI monitor
- Heavy Duty Power assisted stirrups
- Schaerer Carbon Fiber plate for full body Imaging
- T-Max Shoulder Positioner
- Trimano Arm holder
- Allen Shoulder Lift Assist Positioner
- Stulberg Hip Positioner
- Hip Fix Positioner
- Smith & Nephew Hip Distractor
Along with an Acute Pain Service (patient-controlled analgesia systems, epidural infusions) provided in liaison with the Guy’s Hospital Pain Team, we have the equipment and expertise to cater for all anaesthetic needs. In addition, we will always do our utmost to accommodate any particular requirements or special needs that the patient may have.