Anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists are responsible for your safety and comfort during surgery. Your surgeon will work with you and the anesthesiologist to plan the best type of anesthesia for you.

Described below are the most common types of anesthesia used in joint replacement surgery. Most of our patients have general anesthesia for joint replacement surgery. A member of the Anesthesia Department will be with you at all times in the Operating Room.

General anesthesia involves medications that keep you completely asleep during surgery. These medications are given intravenously (IV) and by inhalation. Some of the most common side effects of general anesthesia include nausea and vomiting and sore throat.You will be given medication to prevent nausea. The anesthesiologist will describe these risks to you when you sign a consent form for anesthesia. This consent is separate from your consent for surgery.

Regional anesthesia involves medicine that is injected through a needle into an area of the body to keep that part of the body numb. There are different types of regional anesthesia including spinals, epidurals and nerve blocks.

Spinal and epidural anesthesia involves medication inserted into your back through a needle. It makes your body numb from the waist down. While lying on your side or sitting up, a needle is placed into your back and the medicine is given. You will not be able to move your legs when the medicine starts to work. You will be able to move your legs three to four hours after surgery as the medicine wears off. The key difference between a spinal and an epidural is that with an epidural a catheter (very small tube) is left in place to treat your pain after surgery.

With any regional anesthesia, you will also receive sedative medication through your IV to make you feel sleepy and more relaxed. You may still feel pressure and/or pushing where the surgeons are working. If you have any pain or discomfort, your anesthesiologist will give you additional medication. Sometimes a combination of regional and general anesthesia is used depending on the type and duration of your surgery. In some cases, it can take time for the medicine to wear off. No matter what type of anesthesia you have, there will be many staff members watching you closely for any side effects.


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