One of the most important things you can do to keep yourself safe is to have a thorough preoperative discussion with a member of the anesthesia team. It’s an opportunity to provide the anesthesiologist with information vital to your care and for you to express your wishes about anesthesia and postoperative pain control.
Your medical history is important. Mention any adverse reactions to anesthesia in yourself or your parents, siblings, or children. Anesthesia reactions can run in families, and some hereditary disorders need special attention.
Bring a list of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take. For example, aspirin and other NSAIDs can interfere with blood clotting and will need to be discontinued up to two weeks before surgery. Be sure to mention any supplements or herbal products you take. Several herbs can cause problems with bleeding or blood pressure during surgery or interact with anesthesia medications. Make note of any allergies. And be sure to report any loose teeth, dentures, or crowns; they could be damaged if a tube is placed into your throat to help you breathe.
If an endotracheal tube will be used to help your breathing, the anesthesiologist will do a brief physical examination, paying special attention to your mouth and neck flexibility. Ask about eating, drinking, and medication use before your surgery.
The preoperative interview is also a good time to learn what to expect when you wake up from surgery. For example, some anesthetics are more likely to produce nausea or headaches than others. It’s also wise to find out how long the effects of anesthesia may last. Depending on the type of anesthesia, you may be advised not to drink alcohol, drive a car, or operate any complex machinery for at least 24 hours following anesthesia.
For a list of questions to ask your anesthesiologist during your pre-op interview,
download the Lifeline to Modern Medicine Come Prepared PDF.