What is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia is the loss of feeling or awareness. Although there are many different types of anesthesia, not all types of anesthesia may be appropriate for you or for all surgeries; and you should discuss this with your anesthesiologist.

At Cayuga Medical Center and Surgicare, only highly qualified practitioners administer anesthesia.

  • Our anesthesia providers work collaboratively with your surgeon to make sure that your experience is as safe and pain free as possible.
  • There are many choices regarding the specific anesthesia to be used. This decision is made jointly by the patient and anesthesiologist with input from the surgeon, so that the anesthesia choice is appropriate for that person and the anesthetic plan addresses the patient’s concerns.

General Anesthesia

With general anesthesia, you are unconscious and unaware of your surroundings. You should not feel anything or remember what occurred while you were asleep. Please do not worry that you will wake up during the surgical procedure. Your anesthesiologist will make sure you wake up at the right time.

Anesthetic medication is given through your IV or through a mask with gas. When you go to sleep, it will only take a few moments. You may start to feel numb, sounds may seem louder, and you may feel lightheaded. A breathing tube may be inserted into your mouth or windpipe to protect your airway and help you breathe after you are asleep. It will be removed once you wake up.

The risks include:

  • Sore throat or hoarseness for the first 24 hours after surgery because of the breathing tube
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue

Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC)

Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC) is a planned procedure where you are given local anesthetic by the surgeon at the site of the surgery—usually in addition to a combination of an IV sedative and pain medication given by the anesthesia provider. The level of sedation may vary depending on the surgical need as well as your preference. You may have a limited recall, if any, of the operating room environment; and you will be conscious and will not need a breathing tube.

Regional Anesthesia

With regional anesthesia (spinal, epidural, nerve block), only a specific area of the body is numbed. The anesthesia medicine that is injected prevents pain impulses from that area to travel to the brain. You are awake and you may receive medication to help you to relax, relieve anxiety and increase your comfort level. Please pay attention to the specific written instructions regarding regional anesthesia that are given to you after the procedure.

Spinal Anesthesia

Spinal anesthesia is usually used for surgeries of the lower abdomen and lower extremities. While you are awake during spinal anesthesia, you may receive medication to help you relax. A local anesthetic is injected into your lower back into the spinal column which will make you numb and weak from the abdomen to the feet. The risks include a headache and possible difficulty emptying of your bladder.

Epidural Anesthesia

With epidural anesthesia, a local aesthetic drug is injected into the lower part of the back between the bony vertebrae. The medication is injected into the space just outside of the spinal canal. A small catheter is usually inserted into the back so that additional medication may be given during and after the procedure. Epidural anesthesia, like spinal anesthesia, will usually make you numb below the level of your abdomen or lower chest.

Nerve Blocks

With nerve blocks only a specific part of the body, such as an arm or leg, is anesthetized by administering the anesthetic medications near specific nerves. A local anesthetic is used to make the insertion of the needle as painless as possible. You may also receive medication to help you relax.

Important Patient Safety Information

Day of Procedure

  • Do not eat anything eight hours before your arrival time for your procedure unless otherwise requested by your physician.
  • You should drink clear fluids up to three hours before your arrival time to CMC or Surgicare. Clear fluids are black coffee, juice without pulp and water.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages.
  • Do not smoke.
  • We will contact you prior to the day of your procedure to advise you on what medications you should take that morning.

After Your Procedure

There are a few important things you must plan for in order to have a safe recovery after your procedure.

  • You must have somebody drive you home. It is not safe for you to drive a vehicle after you have had anesthesia.
  • Do not plan to do other activities like shopping. You will be tired. It is important you go home and rest.
  • Public transportation is okay, but you must have somebody with you.

Pain Management

Pain is real…and it affects each person differently. It is important you share your pain level with your nurse and doctor who are caring for you.

What kind of Pain control will I have after surgery?

Controlling pain after your procedure is very important. You will be more comfortable, heal faster and have fewer complications.

  • You will be asked to grade your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain, 5 with moderate pain but it’s tolerable and 10 being unbearable pain.
  • Pain control can help you:
    • Enjoy greater comfort while you heal.
    • Get well faster. With less pain you can start walking, do your breathing exercises, and get your strength back quicker.
    • Become active earlier.

Oral Pain Medications at Home

  • Patients often go home the day of surgery. The surgeon usually orders oral pain medication to use as needed.
  • Take pain medicine when pain first begins and keep a record.

PCA (available for inpatients)

  • The patient controlled analgesia (PCA) lets you push a button when you begin to feel pain and this triggers the pain medicine to flow into your intravenous line (IV).
  • For your safety, you are the only person who can push the button when you are having pain. Family members or friends are not allowed to push the PCA button for you.
  • If you still have a lot of pain while using the PCA pump, please let your nurse or doctor know as soon as possible.

Epidural Anesthesia (available for inpatients)

  • The benefits of epidural pain control are:
    • Longer lasting pain relief with fewer narcotics
    • Ability to cough and deep breathe more effectively, thus possibly preventing pneumonia
  • When you return to your room your nurse will frequently check your blood pressure, pulse, respiration, level of sedation, ability to raise your legs off the bed, and your level of pain.

Nerve Blocks

As with epidurals, nerve blocks may decrease the pain you experience and reduce the amount of other pain medication you might need.

Contact Us

About Cayuga Medical Center

We are a not-for-profit, acute-care medical center bringing state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment services to the residents of Tompkins, Cortland, Seneca, and Tioga counties. And a century after our founding, we remain intrinsically tied to those we serve: our corporate membership includes representatives from over 100 community organizations. At Cayuga Medical Center, we believe that hospitals are shaped by the people they serve


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