Outpatient Surgery with General, Regional Anesthesia or Local Anesthetic
General anesthesia is delivered into your veins or intravenously. It is a combination of medication and inhaled gases that put you into a deep sleep during surgery so that you feel no pain, and will not remember the surgery.
Regional anesthesia (a nerve block) is a technique performed by skilled anesthesiologists who will numb the entire arm. Or depending on your surgery, you may receive only local anesthetic in the hand or wrist that is being operated on.
Regional anesthesia is achieved by injecting strong numbing medication into your upper arm or just below the collar bone. Because you are not going to sleep, you will not need an IV or anesthetic gases that can make you nauseous, weak and disoriented after surgery.
When surgery will take more than an hour, we may combine general and regional anesthesia to control pain during and after surgery. When the general anesthesia wears off, the regional anesthesia will keep you comfortable for 12-36 hours. Until the regional anesthesia wears off you will be unable to move your fingers, wrist, elbow and sometimes your shoulder. Your anesthesiologist will be able to answer all your questions regarding the type of anesthesia they recommend.
Outpatient surgery comes in three stages:
1. Preoperative or before surgery.
- Before surgery you and your surgeon will discuss your medical history, discuss your operation, have your questions answered, and sign consent forms. You will meet your anesthesiologist who tell you the kind of anesthesia you will receive and answer your questions.
- You will receive preadmission lab testing the day before your surgery. Women of child bearing age will receive a pregnancy test.
- You will be taken to change into a hospital gown, have an IV inserted, and asked questions that may have been answered before! This is done to assure your safety.
- You will be prepared for surgery. Your Ortho Illinois surgeon will write on the area to be operated on. If you have hairy arms, your arm may be shaved where the surgery is to be performed.
2. During Surgery.
- You will be taken into the operating room and moved from a stretcher to the operating room table. The room will be cold and the nurse will provide you with warm blankets, to keep you comfortable.
- If you have general anesthesia, you will receive medicine in your IV to put you to sleep, and the anesthesiologist will place a breathing tube to supply oxygen and gases to keep you asleep. When surgery is completed, your anesthesiologist will wake you. You will then be moved to recovery.
3. After Surgery.
- When you wake up, your arm will be bandaged and there will be a splint or half cast. Ice packs will help decrease postoperative pain and swelling. If needed, you will receive pain medication. When you are feeling better and can drink liquids and get dressed you will be discharged with prescriptions for pain medicine and antibiotics.
- At home, you will eat only tea and clear liquids for your first meal. Ice will be applied four times a day for at least 20 minutes each time.
- If you have painful swelling, a temperature over 101, redness around your incision or yellow drainage, call your Ortho Illinois surgeon immediately.
- No exercise of the wrist, elbow or hand should be done until your doctor instructs you.
- You must keep the sling, dressing or incisions dry until your physician notifies you.
All of this information will be provided to you before surgery so that you can understand what to expect and prepare for assistance at home. Pain and swelling are normal after surgery. Your surgeon will also provide you with a return to work schedule, when applicable.