During the operation, the anesthesiologist ensures that you are completely asleep (anesthetized) and have no pain. Your anesthesiologist assures the adequate functioning of your heart rate and rhythm, your blood pressure and blood flow, and your breathing, thus ensuring the safety of you and your vital organs. In the operating room, it is the anesthesiologist who is responsible for fluid and blood replacement. To monitor these vital functions, he uses various modern technologies which he installs before the operation on your heart begins. In addition, technologies such as echocardiography allow the anesthesiologist to evaluate the results at the end of surgery, thus, helping in the surgical decision making.
Typical operative times are approximately 4 to 5 hours but more complex procedures can take longer and surgical anesthesia up to 10 hours or longer can be maintained for these cases.
Your anesthesiologist provides direct care for you in the operating room as well as being responsible for several aspects of your care before and after the operation. He visits you before the operation so that he may evaluate your condition and ensure that the anesthetic will be tailored to your specific medical conditions and operation. He may prescribe specific tests and therapies so that you will be optimally prepared for your upcoming surgery. At this time you have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Sedative or anti-anxiety medications will be prescribed for you the night before your surgery and before you are brought to the operating room.
You will be brought to the operating room after receiving sedative medications. In the operating room monitors for heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure and oxygen in the blood will be placed. Intravenous lines allowing medication delivery and fluid replacement are placed. You will then be anesthetized (made to sleep). Once under anesthesia a breathing tube will be placed in your trachea and you will be placed on the respirator. An echocardiography probe will be placed in your esophagus to monitor heart functioning during the procedure and to evaluate the results of the surgery once it has been completed. Intravenous lines will be placed in the major veins of your neck so that medications can be given directly into your heart and so that the pressures in your heart and the work your heart is doing can be directly measured. Your operation will then take place while you are under the careful surveillance and care of the anesthesiologist and his assistant.
After the operation, you will be brought to the intensive care unit where you will gradually recover from the effects of the anesthesia. Usually this takes several hours but varies from individual to individual. The anesthesiologist is responsible for your breathing while on the ventilator (breathing machine) in the intensive care unit. The breathing tube will be removed from your trachea after you are awake in the intensive care unit, usually several hours after your operation has finished. The anesthesiologist is an expert in pain management and the protocols for your pain control after the operation have been put in place by the anesthesia team.
Anesthesia has undergone many advances in the last thirty years. These advances in anesthesia medications and monitoring are shown in the ever increasing safety record. Although complications from the anesthetic are possible, these serious events are, now, very rare. Be assured, your anesthesia team is with you throughout the operation to ensure your safety and comfort!