Patient Resources

If you or a loved one are having a surgical procedure, or expecting a child, you probably have some questions about the kind of anesthesia and pain relief medication you can expect. SAA wants to help you find the answers. Studies show that well informed patients heal faster and report a better overall surgical experience, so we encourage you to browse through these resources and also explore the links provided, which will guide you to a wealth of information from the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

Patient FAQ

What are the risks of anesthesia?

All operations and anesthesia have associated risks affected  by many factors such as type of surgery and your personal medical condition.  Consult your anesthesiologist to learn more about any risks that may be associated with your specific treatment plan.

Are there different kinds of anesthesia?

There are three main types of anesthesia: local, regional, and general.

Local anesthesia: This procedure uses an anesthetic drug that is injected into the tissue to numb a specific location of your body requiring minor surgery.

Regional anesthesia: Your anesthesiologist makes an injection near a cluster of nerves to numb the area of your body that requires surgery. You might be awake, or you may be given something to help you relax. There are several kinds of regional anesthesia. Two of the most frequently used are spinal and epidural anesthesia, which are produced by injections made with great exactness in the appropriate areas of the back. They are frequently preferred for childbirth and prostate surgery.

General anesthesia: You are unconscious and have no awareness or other sensations. There are a number of general anesthetic drugs. Some are gases or vapors inhaled through a breathing mask or tube and others are medications introduced through a vein. During general anesthesia, you are carefully monitored, controlled and treated by your anesthesiologist. A breathing tube may be inserted through your mouth and frequently into the windpipe to maintain proper breathing during this period. The length and level of anesthesia is calculated and constantly adjusted with great precision. At the conclusion of surgery, your anesthesiologist will reverse the process and you will regain awareness in the recovery room.

Is pain relief in my spine safe?

You can rest assured that spinal anesthesia is a safe choice for many surgeries. When offered this type of anesthesia, many patients are concerned about serious side effects, such as paralysis, and also about troubling but less dangerous side effects, such as headache. There is a common, although false, perception that these complications occur often. In fact, spinal anesthesia has a long track record of safety, with a very low rate of serious complications.

What should I wear to the hospital or facility?

Please wear loose fitting clothes that are easy to put on and will fit over bulky bandages or surgical dressings. Leave your jewelry and valuables at home.

Are long surgeries more dangerous?

There is no evidence that the duration of general anesthesia by itself increases the risks of anesthesia complications.

I want an epidural when I have my baby, how does that work?
An epidural block is given in the lower back and is designed to relieve labor pain. You will either be sitting up or lying on your side when you receive your epidural. The block is administered below the level of the spinal cord. The anesthesiologist will use a local anesthesia to numb an area of your lower back. A special needle is placed in the epidural space just outside the spinal sac. This procedure can be more fully discussed with your physician.
Could herbal medicines, vitamins and other dietary supplements affect my anesthesia?
Anesthesiologists are conducting research to determine exactly how certain herbs and dietary supplements interact with certain anesthetics. They are finding that certain herbal medicines may prolong the effects of anesthesia. Others may increase the risks of bleeding or raise blood pressure. Some effects may be subtle and less critical, but for safety reasons, it is critical to tell your doctor about everything you take prior to surgery. Anticipating a possible reaction is better than reacting to an unexpected condition.
Should I take my usual medicines?
Some medications should be taken and others should not. It is important to discuss this with your anesthesiologists. Do not interrupt medications unless your anesthesiologist or surgeon recommends it.
What about eating or drinking before my anesthesia?
As a general rule, you should not eat or drink anything after midnight before your surgery. Under some circumstances, you may be given permission by your anesthesiologist to drink clear liquids up to a few hours before your anesthesia.
Should I stop smoking before my surgery?

Yes – it is important to quit smoking now. Your surgery represents a golden opportunity to do so. There is evidence that smokers who quit at or before surgery experience fewer symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and are more likely to succeed in their attempt to stop smoking long term. Even if it’s only a week or two before surgery, there is still a benefit to quitting.

You can find materials that the ASA has developed to help you stop smoking here.

Will I be sick after my procedure?
Nausea or vomiting may be related to anesthesia, types of surgical procedures or postoperative pain medications. Although less of a problem today because of improved anesthetic agents and techniques, these side effects continue to occur for some patients. Medications to minimize postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting are often given by your antesthesiologist during the surgical procedure and in recovery.
Should my throat be sore after surgery?
A sore throat after general anesthesia is not uncommon, occurring about 20-30% of the time. In most cases it is mild, and gets better without treatment over a couple of days. It is unusual for the soreness to last longer than a few weeks. If this does occur, please contact your physician.
Will I be able to drive afterward?
No. Please make arrangements for a responsible adult to take you home after your procedure. You will not be allowed to leave alone or drive yourself. It is strongly suggested that someone stay with you during the first 24 hours after your surgery.
Should my IV site continue to be sore after surgery?

Phlebitis is a term that means inflammation of a blood vessel. Phlebitis occurs quite commonly after the insertion of an IV. Factors affecting this condition include location of IV, the duration that the IV has been in place, the type of material that the IV is made of, the length of the IV catheter, and disorders such as diabetes. If you continue to feel pain and have swelling for more than three weeks you should contact your physician.

What if I still have questions?
Additional questions can be addressed by your physician or anesthesiologist. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. We will answer every question as clearly and honestly as possible.

About Anesthesiologists

When preparing for surgery, many patients think of the anesthesiologist as the “physician behind the mask” who sends them into sleep before the procedure and wakes them when it’s over. What they may not realize is how much the anesthesiologist does between those two points.

Anesthesiologists serve a central role in the operating room, making decisions to protect and regulate your critical life functions. They typically are the first to diagnose and treat any medical problems that may arise during surgery or the recovery period.

Read More

Anesthesiologists are highly skilled medical doctors (M.D. or D.O.) who specialize in the field of anesthesiology. They have significantly longer and more extensive training than other classifications of anesthesia practitioners, so they are the most qualified to make anesthesia- related perioperative medical decisions. Anesthesiologists are primarily responsible for the safety and well-being of patients before, during and after surgery.

The role of the anesthesiologist extends beyond the operating room. The anesthesiologist is responsible for the preoperative assessment of the patient, an evaluation process that carefully considers both the patient’s current state of health and the planned surgical procedure. This evaluation allows anesthesiologists to make judgments about the safest anesthesia plan for each individual patient. The anesthesiologist also is responsible for the well being of the patient postoperatively, while the patient emerges from the effects of anesthesia. They often are involved in the management of acute postoperative pain, as well as chronic and cancer pain, cardiac and respiratory resuscitation, blood transfusion therapies, and respiratory therapy.

Anesthesiologists in the United States complete a four year undergraduate college degree that includes satisfying pre-med requirements. Like other medical doctors, anesthesiologists must follow undergraduate education with four years of medical school. After medical school, a physician specializing in anesthesiology completes a four-year anesthesiology residency program. They are then eligible to sit for the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) two part exam.  Over 97% of SAA anesthesiologists are board-certified or board-eligible (in the process of  taking the series of exams).

Although anesthesiologists complete a minimum of eight years of medical training after college, many elect to spend an additional fellowship year of specialty training in specific areas such as pain management, cardiac anesthesia, pediatric anesthesia, neuroanesthesia, obstetric anesthesia or critical care medicine.

Southern Arizona Anesthesia Services

Preparing for Anesthesia

Before Surgery

Before surgery, follow your physician’s instructions on when to stop eating or drinking, and which medications to take the night before or the day of surgery.  Some medications or even herbal supplements must be stopped days or even weeks before surgery.   Prior to surgery, an anesthesiologist will meet with you and evaluate your medical condition and formulate an anesthetic plan that is right for you.  In order to be prepared, be sure to bring a list of all medications you take, including any supplements, and a list of any allergies you have, as well as any records of past problems with surgery or anesthesia.

During Surgery

During surgery, advanced technology is used to monitor your body’s functions, and your anesthesiologist must interpret these sophisticated monitors in order to appropriately diagnose, regulate and treat your body while a personalized, delicate balance of anesthetic medications are administered. A SAA physician or CRNA will be present in the operating at all times during your surgical procedure, and is responsible for the interpretation of the monitoring and making educated medical judgments concerning your responses, and when and how to treat you.

After Surgery

After surgery, your anesthesiologist will reverse the effects of the anesthetic medications you receive, return you to consciousness once again, and supervise your care until you are ready to leave the post-anesthesia care unit.

Related Links:
Q&A: What You Should Know Before Surgery
Anesthesia in Labor & Delivery
Smoking & Surgery
Pediatric Anesthesiology
Seniors and Anesthesia
Herbal and Dietary Supplement Use & Anesthesia
Obesity and Anesthesia

Before Surgery

Before surgery, follow your physician’s instructions on when to stop eating or drinking, and which medications to take the night before or the day of surgery.  Some medications or even herbal supplements must be stopped days or even weeks before surgery.   Prior to surgery, an anesthesiologist will meet with you and evaluate your medical condition and formulate an anesthetic plan that is right for you.  In order to be prepared, be sure to bring a list of all medications you take, including any supplements, and a list of any allergies you have, as well as any records of past problems with surgery or anesthesia.

During Surgery

During surgery, advanced technology is used to monitor your body’s functions, and your anesthesiologist must interpret these sophisticated monitors in order to appropriately diagnose, regulate and treat your body while a personalized, delicate balance of anesthetic medications are administered. A SAA physician or CRNA will be present in the operating at all times during your surgical procedure, and is responsible for the interpretation of the monitoring and making educated medical judgments concerning your responses, and when and how to treat you.

After Surgery

After surgery, your anesthesiologist will reverse the effects of the anesthetic medications you receive, return you to consciousness once again, and supervise your care until you are ready to leave the post-anesthesia care unit.

Related Links:
Q&A: What You Should Know Before Surgery
Anesthesia in Labor & Delivery
Smoking & Surgery
Pediatric Anesthesiology
Seniors and Anesthesia
Herbal and Dietary Supplement Use & Anesthesia
Obesity and Anesthesia

Surgery

Types of Anesthesia

Each year, millions of people in the United States undergo some form of medical treatment requiring anesthesia. Anesthesia, in the hands of qualified professionals, is a safe and effective means of alleviating pain during nearly every type of medical procedure. Anesthesia care includes surgery and all activities that take place before and after anesthetic is administered.

There are three main categories of anesthesia, each having many forms and uses:

General Anesthesia

In general anesthesia, you are unconscious and have no awareness or other sensations. There are a number of general anesthetic drugs – some are gases or vapors inhaled through a breathing mask or tube and others are medications injected intravenously (into a vein). To achieve the right balance of effects, the anesthesiologist often combines sleep-inducing agents (hypnotics) with analgesics (drugs that relieve pain but don’t block other sensations) and muscle relaxants. Many of these medications are administered through a small plastic catheter placed in a vein before surgery. The anesthesiologist often starts with a medication to relieve anxiety. Muscle relaxants and analgesics are then used as muscle relaxants keep the body still during surgery while analgesics blunt the body’s response to pain, helping steady the heart rate and blood pressure. A patient who receives muscle relaxants may need help with breathing. For that purpose, the anesthesiologist may place a breathing tube in the patient’s throat, which is connected to a ventilator.

Regional Anesthesia

In regional anesthesia your anesthesiologist makes an injection near a cluster of nerves to numb the area of your body that requires surgery. You may remain awake, or you may be given a sedative; in either case you do not see or feel the actual surgery taking place. There are several kinds of regional anesthesia; the two most common are spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia. Again, one of our highly qualified and caring anesthesiologists constantly monitors vital functions and comfort and sedation level to make adjustments to medications as needed.

In certain situations, a combination of general and regional anesthesia may be appropriate. Following your pre-anesthetic evaluation, your anesthesiologist will recommend an anesthetic choice for you, taking into account your health status, preferences and the nature of your surgical procedure.

Local Anesthesia

In local anesthesia, the anesthetic drug is usually injected into the tissue to numb just the specific location of your body requiring minor surgery.  An anesthesiologist may be present during the procedure to monitor your vital signs and administer intravenous medications and/or sedation.

Insurance Carriers

SAA contracts with all of the major insurance carriers in the Tucson market, and we are “in-network” for over 97% of all patients at the facilities at which we practice.

View Our Contracted Carriers
  • Aetna (HMO, PPO and Medicare Open Plans)
  • AARP
  • AARP Medicare Complete United Health Care
  • All AHCCCS Plans
  • Allwell
  • Ambetter
  • Ameriben
  • Assurant Health Plan
  • BCBS of AZ (HMO, PPO, TPA)
  • BCBS of Other States
  • Carelon
  • CPSA
  • CCN
  • Champ VA
  • Cigna Health plan (HMO & PPO)
  • First Health
  • Foundation
  • GEHA
  • Golden Rule
  • Great Expections
  • Great West Health Care
  • Healthnet (HMO, PPO and Senior Medicare Plan)
  • Humana (HMO, PPO and Senior Medicare Plans)
  • Indian Health Service
  • Industrial Insurance
  • Mail Handlers
  • Medicare (all types of Medicare plans)
  • Medicare Railroad
  • Multiplan
  • National Care Network
  • P-Capp
  • Pacificare (PPO & Senior Medicare Plans)
  • PHCS PPO
  • Scan Health
  • Secure Horizons United Health Care
  • Tricare
  • UMR
  • United Health Care (HMO, PPO, and Senior Medicare Plans)
  • USA Managed Care
  • Veterans Administration

While every effort is made to keep this list up-to-date, changes may occur, both in terms of whom we are contracted with and the coverage provided by the various insurance plans. If seeing an in-network physician is important to you, please contact your insurance carrier prior to your surgery to determine the exact status. Your insurance plan is a contract between you (the patient and/or subscriber) and your insurance company, and this contract determines the amount of deductibles and co-payments that you are responsible for.

Still have questions? Call (520) 795-7650.

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