Patient Experience

Who is my anesthesiologist?

An anesthesiologist is a doctor who specializes in caring for patients during surgery or a procedure. You will meet with an anesthesiologist one or more times before your surgery or procedure to review your medical history and to develop an anesthetic plan. An anesthesiologist does not provide clearance for a surgery, but wants to ensure all medical problems are addressed and being treated appropriately before administering anesthesia.

At NYU Langone Medical Center, you will be cared for by members of an anesthesia team. This team is led by a physician specifically trained in anesthesiology. He or she may also have received additional training in one of the subspecialties within the field of anesthesiology, such as pediatric or cardiac anesthesiology.

What types of anesthesia are there?

Regional Anesthesia

Regional anesthesia is used to put a specific region of the body to sleep, either for the surgery or for pain relief post-operatively. This technique can help to reduce or eliminate unwanted side effects of pain medications. Sedation is commonly given to ensure that you will be comfortable. A regional anesthetic can be broken down into a neuraxial anesthetic or a regional block, as explained below. Please speak with your anesthesiologist about the risks associated with this technique.

Neuraxial anesthesia, which includes spinals and epidurals, numbs the body below a certain level. They are commonly used during child labor, caesarian section, and lower body surgeries. A spinal is a single injection of anesthetic that will numb the specific body part, while an epidural frequently involves a catheter that can be redosed and used well into the post-operative period. A regional or nerve block targets a specific nerve or nerves. A block is sometimes placed prior to your procedure with the purpose of helping control your pain afterwards.

General Anesthesia

The most common type of anesthesia given for surgery is general anesthesia, where you remain asleep for the duration of the procedure. An airway device, either an endotracheal (“breathing”) tube or a type of mask called a laryngeal mask, is used during general anesthesia. These devices are removed before you are fully awake. All devices have the risk of producing a sore throat or hoarse voice for a couple of days. General anesthesia runs a higher risk of producing nausea after the procedure.

Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC)

Monitored anesthesia care is a term used to describe sedation of all types. Sedation can range from minimal amounts of anti-anxiety medications to intravenous medications that keep you lightly sleeping. Your anesthesiologist will ensure you are comfortable, but depending on the depth of sedation, you may remember hearing sounds or voices during your surgery. Sedation can be given as the only anesthetic, to supplement the surgeon’s use of local anesthetics at the surgical site, or in conjunction with a regional anesthetic.

There are several options, and many factors will determine which anesthetic is right for you. Please discuss any preferences with your anesthesiologist, as this is important when formulating your anesthetic plan.

What will the anesthesiologist be doing during the procedure?

Your anesthesiologist will closely monitor you throughout the surgery, and will continually administer medications to keep you comfortable. He or she is in constant communication

with the surgeon, making any adjustments necessary during the surgery. A member of the anesthesia team is with you throughout the procedure, from the moment you walk into the operating or procedure room to the time a report is given to the nurse in the recovery room.

What happens once the procedure is over?

After your surgery, the anesthesiologist brings you to the recovery room, which is a specific area where a nurse monitors you closely until the anesthesia wears off. This close observation helps with the timely administration of any necessary pain, anti-nausea, or other medications. Patients spend an average of two hours in the recovery room, largely determined by the presence of pain and/or nausea. Family members or friends are welcome to visit you there for short periods of time, but it is best for you to sleep so we discourage people from staying too long. There are numerous nurses and doctors to address your concerns in the recovery room.

What effects might I normally expect in the days after anesthesia? What might prompt me to check with my doctor? What happens once the procedure is over?

Although the majority of the anesthesia has worn off by the time you are discharged from the recovery room, it may take longer until you return to feeling your usual self. There are also effects from the surgery, the healing process that your body will go through, and the pain medications used afterwards that may influence the way you feel. Please notify your doctor if your pain is not controlled or you remain nauseous and unable to tolerate food.