Pre-anesthesia Evaluation

NOTE: Material on this page does not constitute medical advice. Consult with your physician concerning specific medical conditions.

Information about You -- The Pre-Anesthesia Evaluation

The specialty of Anesthesiology is focused on providing safe and effective anesthesia during surgery and other procedures.  Because of many advances in anesthesia technique, anesthesia is very safe for the vast majority of patients, including those with heart disease and other serious medical conditions. In all cases in which a patient will require anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will perform a preoperative evaluation.  For very simple, low-risk procedures in completely healthy young patients, this evaluation may take place immediately prior to your procedure when you meet your anesthesiologist on the day of surgery.  However, often the surgeon or anesthesiologist may want to evaluate you a few days before your surgery.  Such evaluations may take place in a PreAnesthesia evaluation clinic.  Sometimes, it may take place in a telephone interview.  Whether the evaluation occurs during a clinic visit or phone interview, it is an opportunity for your anesthesiologist to learn more about your general health and how it may be affected by anesthesia, and it is also a chance for you to ask your anesthesiologist questions about your anesthetic risks and choices.

During your preanesthesia evaluation, we will ask questions about your health, perform a brief physical examination, determine if any laboratory or other testing is required prior to surgery, discuss anesthetic options and your anesthetic preferences, and answer as many questions as we can about your anesthetic.  On the day of surgery, your anesthesiologist will finalize an anesthetic plan with you based on your health profile, the surgery you are having, and the anesthesia preferences you and your surgeon have. 

In order to provide the best anesthesia care, the anesthesiologists will want the best information available about:

  • Your previous operations and anesthetic experiences
  • Any difficulties you have had with past anesthetics
  • Any serious complications of  anesthesia experienced by you or your family members (such as malignant hyperthermia)
  • Any allergies you have (or drug sensitivities)
  • What medications you are taking, including prescription medications, over the counter medications, and herbal preparations.
  • If you are a woman, whether you are or could be pregnant, or whether you are currently breast feeding
  • If you are hearing, vision or mobility impaired, or require any other special assistance
  • If you are able to speak and understand English, or may require a translator
  • Whether you have any of the following conditions: 
  • Heart problems or chest pain, including having a pacemaker or defibrillator
  • Problems with your lungs or breathing
  • History of sleep apnea
  • History of strokes 
  • Diabetes 
  • Bleeding or clotting problems 
  • Kidney disease or bladder problems
  • Liver disease 
  • Reflux or heartburn (gastro-intestinal reflux disease=GERD)
  • Thyroid problems 
  • Neurologic problems such as multiple sclerosis, dementia, Parkinson’s disease 
  • Mood disorders such as depression 
  • Cancer 
  • Problems with the Immune System such as chronic steroid therapy, HIV, or organ transplant  

The anesthesiologist may ask for permission to obtain medical records from your primary care physician or other healthcare givers as a part of your preoperative evaluation.  Whenever possible, you should plan to bring any medical records you have with you to your evaluation, as well as a complete medication list with dosages.  Alternatively, you could bring all of your medications with you on the day of your evaluation.