General anesthesia is a pharmacologically induced and reversible condition of loss of consciousness, accompanied by muscle relaxation and analgesia, which lasts for the duration of the surgical procedure. For this purpose, several classes of drugs are used, which act by altering the transmission of the nerve stimulus from the periphery to the central nervous system. General anesthesia is practiced in a totally safe manner.
Anesthesia realizes one of man’s great dreams: to temporarily remove the pain, both to give relief, and to be able to operate surgically without suffering. This is what you must know essentially under the consent of the patient guides well-being.
How it happens?
During “sleep”, the anesthesiologist takes care to check the patient’s vital functions, i.e. heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation, with adequate monitoring, and to correct them if necessary. It is also guaranteed a ventilator support of “assisted” breathing, precisely because the drugs used develop a central action of respiratory depression. Another fundamental characteristic of general anesthesia is amnesia, oblivion, which allows the patient to experience awakening with greater serenity.
The anesthesia allows us to face every type of surgery, removing the memory for the event and ensuring the total absence of pain at the time of the surgical incision and in the post-operative period. Furthermore, in the case of laparoscopy, general anesthesia causes the patient to develop respiratory problems due to the insufflation of gas in the abdomen.
The anesthetic examination
Before undergoing surgery, each patient faces an interview with the anesthetist resuscitator who is essential for a correct and safe approach. The doctor evaluates the clinical history, the possible home therapy, the presence of allergies, body weight and lifestyles – smoking, tolerance to physical exertion, and use of drugs.
During this evaluation, the anesthesiologist decides whether drugs are needed in the pre-operative period, a choice that is performed differently for each patient, just like a tailor-made suit. In fact, some patients are prescribed anxiolytics, to other different types of pain-relieving molecules in order to obtain an optimal control of post-operative pain and to prevent the appearance of chronic pain or, worse, neuropathic pain, a real pain disease, in itself.
Which drugs are used in the election procedures?
There are many drugs used to induce and maintain general anesthesia. In elective procedures on healthy patients, or with moderate pathologies, the induction is carried out through intravenous drugs, which lead to a pleasant feeling of relaxation in a few seconds, followed by sleep. In this first phase, the anesthesiologist approaches the patient a mask with pure oxygen, to promote a better lung oxygenation before the intubation maneuvers, in which the breathing tube is inserted through the mouth to get into the trachea.
For the maintenance of general anesthesia, it is possible to continue with intravenous administration or to pass to the so-called combined anesthesia, i.e. intravenous and inhalation, by inhaling gaseous vapors. The choice is generally based on the patient’s characteristics and on the type of intervention.