General anesthesia (commonly referred to as anesthesia) is an extremely important element of modern medicine. It is a process that allows for the safe and painless conduct of surgical procedures, including those in the field of plastic surgery. This is a topic that still raises many unjustified concerns among patients. In our article, we have gathered the most important information about the course of anesthesia and how it affects our body.
Anesthesia – Basic Information
Anesthesia, is a process of complete and reversible loss of consciousness achieved through the administration of anesthetic drugs. Anesthesia induces sleep, amnesia, inhibition of spinal reflexes, and muscle relaxation, allowing surgical procedures to be conducted painlessly. There are several types of general anesthesia that can be used depending on the type of surgery and the patient’s condition. Among the most commonly used types of general anesthesia, we distinguish:
- inhalation anesthesia: involves the use of inhalation anesthetics to induce and maintain a state of anesthesia. The induction process is carried out by delivering a gas, usually sevoflurane, which does not irritate the respiratory tract. To maintain anesthesia, an inhalation anesthetic is used in a mixture of oxygen and air.
- intravenous anesthesia: relies on administering drugs intravenously for both induction and maintenance of anesthesia. Various intravenous drugs are used to induce the patient into anesthesia, with propofol being commonly used for maintenance. Additionally, depending on the needs, sedative, analgesic, and muscle relaxant drugs may be used.
- combined anesthesia: this is the most commonly used method of anesthesia. It involves the use of both inhalation and intravenous drugs. This combination allows for a reduction in drug doses, resulting in decreased toxicity and minimizing the risk of adverse effects.
How does general anesthesia proceed?
General anesthesia is a process that consists of several main stages. Before these occur, it is necessary for the anesthesiologist to assess and qualify the patient for this type of anesthesia, as well as ensure proper preparation and monitoring. The anesthesiologist assesses the patient’s health, gathers medical history, and information about any allergies. It is also important to determine the time elapsed since the last meal before the procedure to avoid the risk of aspiration during anesthesia. Throughout the process, the patient remains under monitoring with electrodes for EKG, a pulse oximeter, and a blood pressure cuff. Before starting the anesthesia, the patient is given 100% oxygen through a mask for a few minutes, providing an additional oxygen reserve in case of difficulties during intubation.
Induction of Anesthesia
The anesthesiologist, usually through intravenous cannula or inhalation, administers anesthetic drugs to the patient. These drugs act on the central nervous system, rapidly inducing a state of unconsciousness and insensitivity to pain. In some cases, when the surgery requires control of the airway, the doctor may perform intubation. This involves inserting an endotracheal tube through the patient’s throat into the trachea, allowing mechanical assistance with breathing during anesthesia.
Maintenance of Anesthesia
During the maintenance phase of anesthesia, the patient is continually monitored for basic life parameters such as blood pressure, pulse, blood oxygen level, heart activity, and carbon dioxide level. Additionally, the anesthesiologist consistently administers the appropriate anesthetic drugs to keep the patient in a state of anesthesia. They monitor the depth of the patient’s anesthesia and adjust the dosage to maintain the appropriate level of anesthesia. Often, electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring or depth of anesthesia monitors are used to assess the depth of the patient’s anesthesia. During anesthesia, the patient is usually connected to a respirator, providing mechanical assistance with breathing. Therefore, the doctor also controls and regulates ventilation parameters to maintain the correct levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the patient’s blood.
Emergence from Anesthesia
During the final stage of the operation, the administration of intravenous anesthetics is gradually reduced, and the concentration of anesthetic gases is lowered until they are completely discontinued. Simultaneously, the supply of fresh gases is increased, and the patient is given controlled breathing with 100% oxygen. Once the patient begins to breathe independently, excess secretions from the oral and throat cavity are removed, and the endotracheal tube is taken out. The patient is then transported to the recovery room for monitoring and to rule out any potential complications.
In our clinics, patients are under the care of an anesthesiologist throughout the entire process, including overnight. This allows for a swift response in case of any postoperative complications.
General anesthesia and its impact on the human body
We already know that general anesthesia is a medical procedure in which the patient is completely deprived of consciousness and pain sensation. Modern methods and agents used in general anesthesia are advanced and safe enough that serious complications rarely occur. In the case of any potential complications, the benefits of being able to perform surgery under anesthesia outweigh the potential risks associated with it.
More commonly, we talk about side effects, which may include nausea, vomiting, sore throat, drowsiness, short-term memory disturbances, and abnormalities in the respiratory or circulatory system. These side effects can vary depending on the patient and the extent of the procedure. Furthermore, some individuals may experience the side effects of anesthesia for several hours or days after the surgery, such as weakness, dizziness, or concentration problems. However, most patients return to full functionality in a relatively short time.
Throughout the entire anesthesia process, the patient is under constant care of an anesthesiologist and a nurse anesthetist who monitor all vital signs. Anesthesia has a certain impact on the human body, but it is a fully controlled process to avoid any permanent harm to the patient’s health. Current anesthesia methods are advanced enough not to cause any distant, negative effects, although they cannot be completely ruled out. However, in cases of increased risk – for example, due to the patient’s health condition – the specialist always makes the decision that is the safest choice.
General anesthesia is an extremely important medical procedure that allows for the safe and painless performance of complex surgical procedures. Modern methods and agents used in general anesthesia are highly advanced, resulting in very rare complications, with the benefits outweighing potential harm. Patients can rest assured that they are in good hands, and the medical team will do everything to ensure their safety and comfort during the surgery.