Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Know your anesthesiologist

I read an article the other day that said many visits to the gastroenterologist before a colonoscopy are not necessary--and I commented that I would rather visit with the anesthesiologist.

If you have had surgery, you know that often the one and only time you will see this person--who may even be breathing for you--is right before surgery and only for a couple of minutes.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists recommends that especially with an older patient or child, the patient needs to work closely with this doctor (or nurse-anesthesiologist).

Patients need to know what will happen and what will be done to make the experience as comfortable as possible for them.

People fear anesthetic--I know I do.

You need to make sure the anesthesiologist knows the following--not lie there passively listening as he or she jokes about the "cocktail" you will get.

--Past medical conditions--allergies, asthma, sleep apnea foremost.

--Medications you are taking or maybe just stopped because of the surgery. Ibuprofen, aspirin, St Johns Wort--many things can complicate a surgery.

--Smoking. Stopping even a few days before surgery can make a big difference.

--Problems with anesthesia in the past? Tell all.

Being older can make you a candidate for post-operative delirium. This can make you confused or unable to listen to the details of the surgery you just had. If you have experienced delirium in the past--tell the anesthesiologist. Ask for a recovery room with a window--so you can tell if it's day or night. Have your glasses and hearing aids handy so you can tune in.

Children are another case. You need to be calm and comforting as the parent. Don't overpromise--saying it will be like home or even fun. Discuss the anesthesia at length--how long will the child be "out," will he or she be sick afterward? Anesthesiologists are working with the FDA on a program called Smart Tots--you can look it up.

Surgery is a big deal...and being rendered deliberately unconscious is also a big deal. Engage!

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