General anesthesia causes people to become unconscious for a period of time. If you are unconscious, you can't respond to sound or touch. You can't keep your airway open to breathe. Usually, a tube will be placed through your mouth or nose into the windpipe (trachea) to allow you to breathe.
General anesthesia is given by a professional with advanced training in anesthesia. This could include any of the following:
You can have general anesthesia in several different settings. They may include a hospital, an outpatient surgery center or the office of a physician or dentist.
A mixture of drugs is used for general anesthesia. Each drug provides a specific action. These drugs may be inhaled or given intravenously (through a vein).
Before you have general anesthesia, your anesthesiologist will review:
You may need an exam by your physician before your procedure. Whether you do will depend on your medical history and what procedure is planned. You also may need certain tests, including blood tests, a chest X-ray or an electrocardiogram (EKG).
General anesthesia can kill you if you use street drugs, even occasionally. It is important that you tell your anesthesiologist about your use of them.
You will be asked to stop eating and drinking for several hours before your surgery. This is to make sure your stomach is empty during the procedure. If your stomach is not empty, you may vomit while under general anesthesia. Then whatever food is in your stomach could get into your lungs. This can cause serious problems.
Your surgery will be canceled if you eat or drink before the procedure. Do not lie to the anesthesiologist about eating or drinking before the procedure.
During the surgery, a doctor or nurse will monitor you constantly. He or she will watch your blood oxygen level, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and breathing. This will continue until you go home.
You most likely will be given pain medicine during the procedure, while you are asleep. The medicine will help to ensure that you are comfortable when you wake up. Your doctor probably will also inject parts of your mouth with local anesthesia while you are asleep. When you wake up you will be numb in these areas.
Before you go home, your dentist or oral surgeon will give you instructions. Follow these carefully.
Do not drive or use any dangerous machinery for at least 24 hours after receiving general anesthesia. Someone else must drive you home. Even if you feel okay after general anesthesia, your thinking and coordination will be impaired.
For 24 hours after surgery, your doctor may tell you to avoid: