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What is general anaesthetic?

When you have a general anaesthetic you will not be aware of what is happening during your procedure.

How is general anaesthetic given?

To administer the drugs the Anaesthetist will insert an intravenous (IV) cannula into a vein - usually on the back of your hand. The needle is very fine so you may not feel a thing when it is inserted. A little opening on the cannula allows fluids to be administered from an IV bag. Another opening allows the anaesthetist to administer drugs at any time before and during your procedure without you even knowing. In about 30 seconds you will be in a very deep sleep. 

Sometimes anaesthetic is delivered via a face mask. This also takes about 30 seconds to work. 



How will my anaesthetist know that I am really asleep?


The anaesthetist will stay with you throughout your entire procedure closely monitoring the amount of anaesthetic in your body to make sure it is extremely unlikely you are aware of what is happening. Your breathing and vital functions are also monitored very carefully.



Is general anaesthetic safe?


General Anaesthetic is safe for most people. We may need to do some tests before your procedure to be sure GA is right for you. Tests may include ECG, blood tests or lung function test. 



How soon will I recover?


When your procedure is finished the anaesthetist will stop administering anaesthetic drugs. You will gradually start to wake up. You will probably feel a bit groggy and confused. Staff trained to help patients in their recovery will be closely monitoring your progress. Be sure and ask them if you need anything. 

General anaesthetic can affect your judgement and reactions or the first 24 hours. 



Are there any complications?


Everyone reacts differently to medication. As with any medical procedure you could experience some side effects. Common side effects include:



  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Sore throat

  • Headache

  • Muscle and back pains
  • 
Shivering 

  • Difficulty passing urine



More serious complications might include:

  • 

Loss or change of hearing

  • Eye injury

  • Dental damage

  • Nerve injury

  • Heart attack

  • Stroke

  • Chest infection and other breathing problems
  • 
Allergic reaction



Remember - Recovery Room staff are trained to monitor and help you recover safely. Please ask for any help you might need. 


Are there any alternatives to a general anaesthetic?


There are several other types of anaesthetic. Your surgeon will recommend a type of anaesthetic based on your medical situation and the procedure you are having. Click on the links below to read about these procedures:



If you have any questions or concerns about general anaesthesia be sure and ask our experienced staff. 

For more information on Anaesthesia visit the Royal College of Anaesthetists’ website.

Find your nearest hospital that provides this treatment

67 Lansdowne Road
Bournemouth
BH1 1RW

01202 291866

Shenfield Road
Brentwood
CM15 8EH

01277 695695

Warren Road
Brighton
BN2 6DX

01273 624488

3 Clifton Hill
Clifton
Bristol
BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870

4 Trumpington Road
Cambridge
CB2 8AF

01223 303336

Cardiff Bay Hospital
Dunleavey Drive
Cardiff
CF11 0SN

02920 836700

Hatherley Lane
Cheltenham
GL51 6SY

01242 246552

Wrexham Road
Chester
CH4 7QP

01244 680 444

78 Broyle Road
Chichester
PO19 6WB

01243 530600

Rykneld Road
Derby
DE23 4SN

01332 540100

Wonford Road
Exeter
EX2 4UG

01392 262110

25 Beaconsfield Road
Glasgow
G12 0PJ

01413349441

Stirling Road
Guildford
GU2 7RF

01483 555805

Burrell Road
Haywards Heath
RH16 1UD

01444 456999

Venns Lane
Hereford
HR1 1DF

01432 355 131

Foxhall Road
Ipswich
IP4 5SW

01473 279100

2 Leighton Street
Leeds
LS1 3EB

01133 882 067

Scraptoft Lane
Leicester
LE5 1HY

0116 2769 401

Clayton Road
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
NE2 1JP

0191 281 6131

Clayton Road
Newcastle-under-Lyme
ST5 4DB

01782 625431

Beech Road
Headington
Oxford
OX3 7RP

01865 307777

Derriford Road
Plymouth
PL6 8BG

01752 775861

Longden Road
Shrewsbury
SY3 9DP

01743 282628

Staplegrove Elm
Taunton
TA2 6AN

01823 286991

Junction Road
Norton
Stockton on Tees
TS20 1PX

01642 367439

Kingswood Road
Tunbridge Wells
TN2 4UL

01892 531111

The Chase
Old Milverton Lane
Leamington Spa
CV32 6RW

01926 436351

Winchester Road
Chandlers Ford
Eastleigh
SO53 2DW

02380 266 377

Shores Road
Woking
GU21 4BY

01483 227800

Wood Road
Tettenhall
Wolverhampton
WV6 8LE

01902 754 177

Haxby Road
York
YO31 8TA

01904 715000

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