Many things have to work properly during an operation. We therefore need different people who are good at different things. Someone to operate, someone to help the person who is operating, and someone is needed to help with all the equipment. Other people make sure you are fully asleep and feel OK during the whole operation. And don’t forget, we are all there simply to help you.
Several different people who are good at different things will be with you in the operating theatre when you are being operated on. Some of them will be operating on you and others will make sure you feel well and are fast asleep during the whole operation. You will not be left on your own for a single second, don’t worry there are a lot of us making sure you are feeling well.
Bacteria are very tiny creatures that like to live together with other living creatures, such as us humans. There are thousands of different kinds of bacteria. Some make us sick, but not all of them. Even when we are fit and healthy, we actually have bacteria in different parts of our body. This is normal and we need them to make us feel well. But if the bacteria are in the wrong place in your body, this can make you ill. Under no circumstances must bacteria get into your surgical wound. It is therefore especially important that everything around you is extra clean during an operation. The people helping during an operation must therefore wear a cap to prevent hairs or bacteria from their hair getting into your wound. They also need to wear a face mask both to protect you from bacteria and to protect themselves from drops of blood. Before your operation, the personnel must also wash their hands thoroughly with special soap and put on extra clean gloves. Sometimes, they even have to put on several different caps and gloves. This must make them really hot.
Mum and dad will be waiting outside the theatre while you are being operated on. Sometimes, they can sit in a waiting room and sometimes they will be in your room on the ward. Sometimes they will go and have a coffee or something to eat so they are ready to take care of you after your operation. They will be with you again when you wake up after your operation.
Anaesthesia means that you are given medicines that put you in a deep sleep, so you do not notice or feel anything when you are having an operation. We usually say you are put to sleep or given an anaesthetic. An anaesthetist and a nurse anaesthetist will be with you all the time. They are specialists in putting people to sleep and pain management.
There is an area in the brain that decides how alert you are. The medicine that is used when you are put to sleep is thought to affect this area. The medicine is so strong that the brain does not notice what is happening to you, not even when the doctor is operating on you. It is totally different to when you are sleeping normally, then certain parts of your brain close down their activities because you need rest. You can say that when you are given anaesthetics to have an operation, this is artificial sleep as opposed to natural sleep when you are at home in bed at night.
When you are going to be put to sleep before an operation, you can sleep in different ways. You can breathe in sleeping gas via a breathing mask or be given anaesthetics via a plastic tube connected to a blood vessel. Both ways put you to sleep very quickly. The doctor decides which way is best for you.
When you are put to sleep with sleeping gas, you breathe into a breathing mask. You can help this process by holding the mask in front of your nose and mouth and taking deep breaths as though you were going to blow up a balloon. The sleeping gas can smell quite strong, a bit like nail varnish or petrol. It is not at all dangerous. If you do not like the smell, you can try to blow as hard as you can to make the smell go away.
When you are given an anaesthetic, this is injected into your blood through the little plastic tube connected to a blood vessel. As there is a small opening in the plastic tube through which the anaesthetic is given, you do not need another needle in you. When the medicine goes in you can feel as though your nose is tickling a little bit or you feel a bit dizzy, as though you are on a carousel. This is completely normal and not dangerous at all. The best thing to do is to close your eyes and think of something fun or something you really like. Just before you are put to sleep, you are usually also given some extra pure air called oxygen in a breathing mask held in front of your nose and mouth. This pure air is good for your body, especially when you are going to have an operation.
Yes, it is completely and totally safe to go to sleep with either sleeping gas or via anaesthetics in your blood. The medicines affect special areas of the brain that control whether we are asleep or awake and make us go to sleep quickly. How do these medicines reach my brain? Via your blood of course. When you breathe in sleeping gas, the medicine goes to the blood vessels in your lungs first and then up to your head. When you are given anaesthetics in a blood vessel in your hand or arm, the medicine travels up to the brain through several different blood vessels that are connected together in your body.
You will be asleep until your operation is all finished. You are also very likely to be pretty tired after your operation and it is then best you sleep for a bit longer. How long you will be asleep can be difficult to say as this varies from person to person. Quite simply, the best thing is for you to sleep and rest for as long as you feel tired.
You really do not need to be afraid that you can wake up during your operation. You won’t. You will be given anaesthetics all the time until your operation is finished. We will also ensure that you are properly asleep by checking many different things such as for example, your heartbeat and how you are breathing. And you know what, a nurse anaesthetist will not leave your side for a single second and check that you are OK and are fully asleep until your operation is finished.
Yes, you will wake up after your operation. Some patients wake up quickly and some sleep for a bit longer. How long you will be asleep can be difficult to say as this varies from person to person. But you will definitely wake up after your operation.
When your operation is over, we will stop giving you anaesthetics. You will then wake up. It takes some time for anaesthetics to leave the body, which is why you often feel tired after your operation. This is why it can be good for you to sleep for a bit longer.
We continuously check your state and that you are fully asleep all through your operation. And you know what, a nurse anaesthetist will not leave your side for a single second and check that you are OK and are fully asleep until your operation is finished. We examine you and observe you and also ensure that you are sleeping really well by checking lots of different things. To do this, we attach different sensors with cables to you before you go to sleep. The cables are then connected to a computer screen with loads of buttons, lights and indicators that beep and make noises all the time. All the numbers show exactly how you are feeling and that you are sleeping really well while you are being operated on.
We measure several different things to check that you are fully asleep during your operation. You will have three stickers with cables on your chest. The cables are connected to a kind of computer that measures how your heart is working and beating. You will also have a small clip with a red light attached to one of your fingers or a toe. This measures how much oxygen you have in your blood. Finally you will have a cuff on your upper arm. This cuff is a blood pressure monitor. It monitors how your heart is pumping blood round your body. Every so often, the cuff will squeeze your arm for a short time, this is how your blood pressure is measured. Your blood pressure is measured regularly while you are asleep.
No, you will be fast asleep and will not feel anything at all during your operation. When your brain is sleeping, it does not feel pain in the same way as when you are awake. During your operation you will also be given different medicines all the time to help take away the cause of the pain.
Your brain must be awake for you to feel pain. When you are anaesthetised, your brain does not recognise pain signals from your body and you will therefore not feel any pain.
Naturally, you may need to go to the toilet when you are anaesthetised, but this is very uncommon. One reason why it is uncommon is because you do not eat or drink as much as normal before having an operation.
You will not remember anything from your operation itself. However, you may remember what happened just before you went to sleep or when you woke up after your operation.