Anesthesiology is the practice of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and total care of the surgical patient before, during and after surgery. Anesthesia services at Lexington Medical Center are provided by board certified anesthesiologists from Wake Forest Baptist Health. Anesthesia care is administered by an anesthesiologist, or by an anesthesia care team consisting of both an Anesthesiologist and a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist).
Throughout your procedure, we use advanced technology to monitor vital signs such as breathing, blood pressure, brain function and heart rhythm. We are here to diagnose and treat patients in the operating room, recovery room and intensive care unit.
Types of Anesthesia We Offer
Before surgery, your anesthesia provider will review your medical condition and history in order to plan the appropriate type of anesthesia.
For minor surgery where a small area needs to be numb, a local anesthetic is administered via injection. Local anesthesia temporarily stops the sensation of pain in a particular area of the body. The patient is conscious, but may be sleepy and does not feel pain. Local anesthesia is usually administered by the surgeon.
Monitored Anesthesia Care
With this approach, you usually receive pain medication and sedatives through intravenous lines from your anesthesiologist. The surgeon or anesthesiologist also will inject local anesthesia into the skin, which will provide additional pain control during and after the procedure. While you are sedated, your anesthesiologist will monitor your vital body functions.
A portion of the body is numbed by injecting anesthetics around nerves in a region of the body corresponding to the surgical procedure. The patient may be conscious or may be sedated; however, anesthetics block the nerves and prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. Two common forms are described below.
- Epidural - Commonly used for labor and delivery or surgery of the lower limbs. A thin catheter is placed in the "epidural" space, which is the thin membrane surrounding the spinal cord.
- Spinal - Often used for lower abdominal, pelvic, rectal or lower extremity surgery. An anesthetic is injected into the spinal fluid below the level of the spinal cord.
Being "put to sleep" by medicines which are inhaled or administered through an intravenous line (a thin plastic tube inserted into a vein, usually in the forearm). Once asleep, a breathing tube may be inserted through the mouth into the windpipe to maintain proper breathing during the surgery. The patient is unconscious and does not feel pain. Once the surgery is complete, the anesthesia provider stops the anesthetics and the patient awakens.
Post-Operative Pain Relief
Acute Pain Management
In addition to relief of patients' pain during a surgical procedure, it is equally important for the patient's comfort and well-being to receive adequate pain relief postoperatively. Anesthesiologists are responsible for ensuring that a patient's pain is under control before they are discharged from the recovery room. An anesthesiologist may prescribe specific pain medications or perform specialized procedures to maximize patient comfort, which helps to minimize stress on the patient's heart and blood pressure. The techniques that are best suited for each individual patient are chosen to allow for proper rest and healing.
Meeting Your Anesthesiologist
You will meet your anesthesiologist during a pre-anesthesia interview, usually the day of surgery. He or she will ask questions about your medical history, current conditions, allergies and medications. Please list all medications and/or herbal supplements you are currently taking. Please feel free to ask any questions about the types of anesthesia, risks and benefits - we want you to be informed and comfortable.
What to Expect After Surgery
Immediately following surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room, where a specialized nurse will assist in your care while you "wake up." Following your initial recovery period, you will be returned to your room.
After surgery, you will remain with the recovery nurses until your medical team has determined that your anesthetic has worn off. You will then be released. Please arrange to have a responsible adult take you home. Your driving abilities may be affected for at least 48 hours; therefore, you cannot be released unless you are accompanied by an adult. Please be sure to follow all pre-operative and post-operative instructions. Don't hesitate to talk to your anesthesiologist or CRNA if you have any questions.