Each year, millions of people in the United States undergo some form of medical treatment requiring anesthesia. In the hands of qualified professionals like Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), anesthesia is a safe and effective means of alleviating pain during nearly every type of medical procedure. Anesthesia care is not confined to surgery alone. The process also refers to activities that take place both before and after an anesthetic is given.

Communication and cooperation between you and your nurse anesthetist are essential to the anesthesia process and it's safety. Before surgery, a preoperative interview with your nurse anesthetist provides valuable information that helps determine your care. It is equally important to communicate with your anesthesia professional after your surgery. The medications you have been given can remain in your body for 24 hours or more after they have been administered. You won't be "back to your old self" until the anesthetic has been totally eliminated.

Of course, you should never hesitate to ask your nurse anesthetist any questions you might have….before or after your anesthesia is administered. To help you understand the process better the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) has prepared all this information into a brochure as well as answering the most common questions patients have about anesthesia. Please click here for the brochure or you can view the questions and answers below!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Anesthesia Safe?
Statistics show that anesthesia today is safer and more effective than ever before. New monitoring technologies, improved anesthetics, advanced education for anesthesia providers, and high professional standards have made the administration of anesthesia one of the safest aspects of a surgical or obstetrical procedure.

Who Administers Anesthesia?
In majority of cases, anesthesia is administered by a CRNA. CRNAs work with your surgeon, dentist, or podiatrist and may work with an anesthesiologist (physician anesthetist). CRNAs are advanced practice nurses with specialized graduate-level education in anesthesiology who administer anesthesia in all types of surgical cases, using all anesthetic techniques and practicing in every setting in which anesthesia is administered.

Will my Nurse Anesthetist Stay With Me Throughout My Surgery?
The nurse anesthetist stays with you for the entire procedure, constantly monitoring every important function of your body and individually modifying your anesthetic to ensure your maximum safety and comfort.

Are There Different Types of Anesthesia?
There are three basic types of anesthesia:
1) General Anesthesia produces a loss of sensation to a specific region of the body
2) Regional Anesthesia produces a loss of sensation to a specific region of the body
3) Local Anesthesia produces a loss of sensation to a small, specific area of the body.

What Determines Which Type is Best for Me?
The anesthesia chosen for you is based on factors such as your physical condition, the nature of the surgery, and your reactions to medications. The perioperative Interview with your anesthesia professional is key in the selection of the best anesthetic for you. In particular, you must speak freely and frankly and follow instructions closely regarding your intake of medications, food, or beverages before your surgery.

Do Different Types of Patients Require Different Types of Anesthesia?
Many factors go into determining the best anesthetic and administration technique for each person. Pregnant patients, children, older adults, and patients with hereditary disorders such as diabetes or sickle cell anemia all require special consideration. Even lifestyle choices, such as tobacco and alcohol use, can influence the anesthesia selection process.

Information provided by American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

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