General Anaesthetic

The information below is intended to provide details about general anaesthetic. For more information, you must contact your consultant. A general anaesthetic allows operations to be performed safely and effectively. The majority of patients that undergo general anaesthetic suffer no complications.

What exactly is a general anaesthetic?

Before a patient undergoes a surgical procedure, they may be given a general anaesthetic to ensure they are fast asleep throughout. A general anaesthetic is a combination of drugs specifically designed to ensure you remain oblivious to what is happening during your procedure and are unable to feel any sensation.

How is a general anaesthetic administered?

The most frequently used method is to insert a thin tube, known as a drip, into a vein. Then the solution of drugs is administered, causing you to drift off to sleep within around 30 seconds or so. Sometimes it can be more appropriate for certain patients to breathe the drugs in as a gas – this would be administered using a face mask and takes the same amount of time to have an effect.

How will the surgical team know that the anaesthetic has worked?

You will have a professionally trained anaesthetist monitoring you throughout your operation. They will keep tabs on the amount of anaesthesia in your system so it remains at a level that ensures you stay fully under.

Are there any alternative types of anaesthesia?

As well as the general anaesthetic, there is also a local anaesthetic that can be administered for surgical procedures. However, this has the effect of numbing certain regions of the body but does not put you to sleep. Therefore local anaesthetic may be unsuitable for certain types of operations.

Alternative anaesthetics can be:

  • Regional – administered near the spine or a nerve to completely numb pain from a larger region of the body.
  • Local – delivered to numb a small area of the body.

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant..

How long will it take me to recover from a general anaesthetic?

Depending on your state of physical fitness, the recovery times can vary. Generally, patients are advised to expect their physical reactions and ability to make decisions to possibly be impaired for 24 hours following waking from a general anaesthetic.


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