Surgical intervention can produce fears and anxieties. One of the most common fears revolves around the application of anesthesia before the operation. Some of the patients’ doubts are: Is the anesthesiologist going to be in the operating room all the time? Is anesthesia safe? Do you have to put up with post-operative pain?
Anesthesiology is one of the branches of medicine that has evolved the most in the last 30 years, reducing risks through the development of new drugs, advanced techniques, and specialized equipment.
Here is a list of the most common myths about anesthesia:
1. Will the anesthesiologist be in the operating room all the time?
The specialist remains in the care of the patient throughout the intervention, although many believe that the anesthesiologist leaves the operating room after completing the application process. Anesthesiologists are in charge of “induction (sleeping the patient), maintaining anesthetic depth and awakening,” Dr. Sonia González, head of Anesthesiology at Martín del Yerro Plastic Surgeons, explained to Infobae. During the three stages of anesthesia, the patient has his cardiocirculatory, respiratory and cerebral parameters monitored. In addition, the specialist is in permanent communication with the surgeon so that the anesthesia times are adjusted to the different steps of the operation and its duration.
2. Upon awakening, can you vomit the anesthesia?
One of the most common myths is the one that speaks of post-anesthesia vomiting, in which it is believed that the patient as he wakes up, vomits the anesthesia and that is why they have nausea upon waking. The truth is Most anesthetic drugs are metabolized in the liver to produce metabolites that are excreted in the urine.
The elimination process is not through vomiting. What happens is that some pain medications used in anesthesia, such as opiates, “in addition to relieving pain, they also cause vomiting. This causes some patients to feel nauseous when used. Nowadays, analgesic drugs cause nausea very rarely, easily controllable if they occur”, said the specialist.
3. After the operation, do you have a lot of pain because you can’t get more painkillers?
After anesthesia, analgesics can and should be administered until the pain is completely controlled. It is also important to know that current anesthetic drugs produce anesthesia very similar to natural sleep. The awakening should be as usual for each patient, and there is no prolonged period of disorientation.
Many patients even fear waking up with a tube down their throat, especially those with tracheal intubation or laryngeal mask. The reality is that these elements “are extracted before the patient wakes up, so they will never be aware of their presence in the throat or mouth,” said Dr. Gonzalez.
4. Is there a risk of not waking up from an operation due to anesthesia?
There is a large part of the population that pigeonholes anesthesia as an unsafe and risky procedure. The truth is it is currently one of the safest procedures. Proof of this is that thanks to its usefulness and safety, the advances in surgery have been enormous in recent years.
The anesthesiologist González remarked that a “preoperative study and a consultation with the anesthesiologist are of vital importance to assess each patient individually and diagnose if there is any added risk factor.”
5. Is there a possibility of waking up in the middle of the operation?
It is one of the most common false beliefs. Nowadays, anesthetic depth monitoring devices are used, such as the so-called BIS, a device that monitors the level of hypnosis of patients. “Using these methods, the anesthesiologist continuously measures the degree of depth of anesthesia,” says the specialist. In this way, the patient is always anesthetized (asleep) and therefore cannot be awakened.