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Preparing for Surgery and Anaesthesia

Anaesthesia means "loss of sensation''. Anaesthesia stops a patient from feeling pain and other sensations. Medications that cause anaesthesia are called anaesthetics. These medications work by blocking the signals that pass along the nerves in the body to the brain, so that a patient does not feel pain, move during the surgery or remember the surgery or procedure. When the anaesthetics wear off, the patient will start to feel normal sensations again.

During surgery, an anaesthesia specialist doctor (also known as an anaesthetist) will ensure that the patient is safe and comfortable throughout the anaesthesia and also direct the patient’s care immediately after the surgery.

The anaesthetist will meet the patient before the operation to check on their health, perform relevant examinations and discuss the patient’s anaesthetic in detail. They may also send the patient for blood tests or other investigations. The anaesthetist would need to know:

  1. If the patient has a history of high blood pressure, heart problems, thyroid problems, diabetes, asthma, history of reflux or heartburn, or any other medical conditions.

  2. The past operations the patient has had and if there were any problems with anaesthesia.

  3. If the patient has had any abnormal reactions to any drugs or if he/she has any allergies.

  4. If the patient is currently taking any medications, traditional medicines or health supplements. If he/she is taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents or other blood thinning drugs, the patient should consult his/her surgeon or anaesthetist on whether he/she should stop taking them before surgery. This also applies to traditional medicines and health supplements.

  5. If the patient has any loose or capped teeth, crowns, or wears dentures.

  6. If the patient smokes. Giving up smoking for several weeks before the operation reduces the risks of breathing problems. If the patient is unable to stop smoking, cutting down on smoking will help.