• Dan Kao

What happens in the OR while you're asleep?

Updated: Feb 19




The Morning of Surgery


Undergoing surgery is a very stressful situation, with all the unknowns and anxiety, especially if it is your first time. But the hospital staff are available to try to make things easier for you.


When you arrive at the hospital, your personal data will be requested, to ensure you are the correct patient, and you will be asked to change your clothes for a surgical gown. Also, a member of the medical team will explain the steps to follow and verify that you are fasting to give the green light to the surgery. Fasting is an important step to make sure your stomach is empty, so if there is vomiting it will not enter the lungs. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will also see you prior to surgery for any last minute questions.


What happens next?


The surgical team is made up of 3 subgroups that work together. These groups are made up of anesthesiologists, surgeons and nurses. The team will work like gears to give you the best possible care.

When everything is ready for surgery, you will receive anesthesia. Upon arrival at the anesthesia room, you will be connected to the monitoring team and will measure your pulse and blood pressure readings. Subsequently, you will have venous access, so that the anesthesiologist can administer the medications. This is the point where you can be asked to start counting slowly from ten, you won't even reach seven.


Will I be aware of what's happening?


If your operation requires general anesthesia, you will remain in an unconscious state during the entire process. You will not have pain or any other sensation. While you remain in this state, the anesthesiologist will control your vital signs at all times, so you will be under rigorous and thorough surveillance throughout the process.


Keep in mind that there are different levels of sedation. The level of sedation reflects the patient's ability to feel and respond to pain and oral instructions. Before reaching the state of deep sedation, you will go through lower levels of sedation in which you will be able to breathe on your own without help and you will even be able to answer the doctors' questions. Once you have reached deep sedation, you will be connected to a mechanical ventilation machine to ensure your breathing. Remember that this type of anesthesia aims to relieve pain during the surgical procedure and reduce discomfort during surgery.


Who else is with the surgeon?


While the anesthesia team monitors your vital signs, the surgical team performs the surgery. The surgeon will have at least one assistant, in cases of complex surgeries such as the removal of a head/neck tumor there may be up to 3 surgeons and 7 assistants.

The nurses will be responsible for providing the surgeon and surgical assistants with the instruments you need. In addition, they keep the accounting of all the material used to ensure that you do not leave the operating room with unwanted extras.


Once the surgery is completed, the surgical team will close your wounds. The anesthesia will be reversed and you will be taken to the recovery room. There you will be attended to until you are ready to be discharged. In this room there will be a monitoring of your surgical wound, vitals, and you will also receive drugs to reduce pain.


Once you are awake and comfortable, you will be taken back to the room where your family members are waiting for you, and you can start with a light diet. Depending on the surgery performed and your clinical evolution, you may go home the same day.


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Have more questions about your upcoming surgery? Sign up today for your free personalized pre-op consult with a Orthopedic/Spine Nurse Practitioner or Medical Device Specialist today!

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