During your operation

Useful information and advice.

You will either walk down to theatre with a surgical nurse or go on a trolley with a porter and a surgical nurse if you cannot walk.

In special circumstances, a relative or friend may be able to go with you to the anaesthetic room, and a parent will normally go with a child.

The nurse will introduce you to the theatre staff, hand over your notes and pass on any important information. The nurse may stay with you until you are asleep.

  • You can wear your glasses, hearing aids and dentures until you are in the anaesthetic room. If you are having a general anaesthetic you will probably have to remove them in the anaesthetic room to make sure they are not damaged or dislodged while you are anaesthetised. They will be returned to you as soon as you want them. If you are having a local or regional anaesthetic, you may keep them on.
  • Theatre staff will check your identification bracelet, your name, your date of birth and will ask you about other details in your medical records as a final check that you are having the right operation.
  • If you are having a local or regional anaesthetic, you may be able to take a personal music player with you to listen to music through your headphones.

Where will the anaesthetic be given?

You will be taken into the anaesthetic room where you will meet the anaesthetist and an operating department practitioner.

The anaesthetist will attach machines which measure your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. If you have a general anaesthetic, you’ll be given an injection into a vein in your arm or the back of your hand.

Once you have been anaesthetised, you will be moved into the theatre. If you are to have a local anaesthetic, you may be given sedation by injection into the vein to help you relax.

When you are moved into the theatre you will hear many unfamiliar sounds.

Don’t be afraid. We will explain what is happening. Please do ask if you are worried about anything.

How are regional anaesthetics given?

If you have a regional (spinal or epidural) anaesthetic, you may be asked to lie on your side or sit up while the anaesthetic is given through a fine needle into your back. Your anaesthetist will ask you to keep quite still while the injections are given. You may notice a warm tingling feeling as the anaesthetic takes effect. Your operation will only go ahead when you and your anaesthetist are sure that the area is numb.

After this you will be made comfortable and moved into the theatre. If you are not having sedation you will remain alert and aware of your surroundings. A screen shields the operating site, so you will not see the operation unless you want to.

Your anaesthetist is always near to you and you can speak to him or her whenever you want to.

How are general anaesthetics given?

There are two ways of starting a general anaesthetic:

  • Anaesthetic drugs may be injected through a thin plastic tube (a ‘cannula’) into a vein in the back of your hand or arm (this is generally used for adults)
  • You breathe anaesthetic gases and oxygen through a mask, which you may hold if you prefer Once you are unconscious, an anaesthetist stays with you at all times and continues to give you drugs to keep you anaesthetised.

Who will look after me during my operation?

A team of theatre staff will look after you and treat you with care and dignity.

The team includes nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists and operating department practitioners. All information about you will be kept confidential.

A theatre nurse may be able to visit you if you want a more detailed explanation of what will happen. This may help if you are to have a local or regional anaesthetic and will be awake during the operation.