Ambulatory Anesthesia and Surgery --

From the patient's point of view 

About your anesthetic

Being well prepared for anesthesia and surgery may reduce your anxiety, and allow you to be well organized and confident on the day of your procedure. The purpose of the information provided here is to introduce you to important aspects of anesthesia and surgery, including:

  • General information about ambulatory anesthesia and surgery
  • Information about your anesthesia care provider
  • Information your anesthesiologist will want to know about you
  • Different types of anesthesia
  • General instructions for the night and morning before surgery
  • What to expect on the day of surgery
  • What to expect following discharge after ambulatory anesthesia and surgery

General Information

Ambulatory surgery and /or procedures may take place in a hospital, a free-standing surgery center, a clinic, or even in a doctor’s office. In general, if you are having ambulatory surgery (day surgery, outpatient surgery), it is expected that you will be able to go home on the same day, a few hours after surgery. In some instances patients may be required to remain for 6-8 hours after surgery or until the next morning for extended observation. In contrast, inpatient surgery takes place in a hospital and generally requires that you stay in the hospital for one or more days after surgery.

Typically, ambulatory surgery consists of procedures that are expected to have minimal side effects on your body functions during or after surgery. The pain after this type of surgery should be easily controlled by oral (by mouth) pain medication, and extended nursing care should not be required. It is however, considered unsafe for you to drive an automobile, operate hazardous equipment or machinery, or make important decisions in the first 24 hours after anesthesia and surgery. For these reasons, you must have the assistance of another adult person for your transport home, and a companion is recommended for the first night after surgery.

The Anesthesia Care Providers

Anesthesiologists are physicians who specialize in providing medical care to patients undergoing surgical procedures. Anesthesiologists are responsible for ensuring the safe delivery of anesthesia to patients in virtually all health care settings, including ambulatory locations by providing care or consultation before, during, and after an anesthetic. This includes preoperative evaluation, consultation with the surgical team, creation of a plan for the anesthesia tailored to each individual patient’s needs, intraoperative monitoring and administration of anesthetic medications and provision of pain control and supervision of post-operative management of patients.

In many surgical settings the anesthesiologist directs an “anesthesia care team” consisting of other physicians (residents and fellows) or non-physicians such as nurse anesthetists (nurses with additional training in administering anesthesia), or anesthesiologist assistants (who have completed graduate courses in administering anesthesia), who are anesthesia providers trained in the technical administration of anesthesia. The anesthesiologist directing the care team is responsible for supervision of the anesthetic care provided by the team members.


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