Frequently Asked Questions About Anesthesia and Surgery

If you are having a surgical procedure done, you probably have some questions about the kind of anesthesia and pain relief medication you can expect. The American Society of Anesthesiologists wants to help you answer them. This page contains a list of some of the most common questions, and we encourage you to browse the rest of this site for more information. Even though we have answers to many questions, remember it’s best to consult with your anesthesiologist or physician about your personal situation.

Learn more about key anesthesia topics by clicking on the appropriate category below to find your question and answer.

General Questions     Preparation for Surgery     Regional Anesthesia     Sleep Apnea

General Questions

Are there different kinds of anesthesia?

Is anesthesia safe?

What are the risks of anesthesia?

What type of education and training does an anesthesiologist have?

What is the difference between an anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist?

Preparing For Surgery

Should I continue to take my medications prior to surgery?

Could herbal medicines, vitamins and other dietary supplements affect my anesthesia if I need surgery?

What happens during a preanesthesia visit with my anesthesiologist?

How will my anesthesiologist know how much anesthesia to give me?

Why do I need to have an empty stomach prior to surgery?

Can I smoke cigarettes before I have surgery?

What are the different types of sedation?

What is a blood transfusion?

Who might need a blood transfusion?

Do anesthesiologists administer blood transfusions?

How can I help prevent wrong site surgery?

Should my IV site continue to be sore and swollen weeks after surgery?

When is a breathing tube necessary for surgery?

How can I lower my risk of nausea and vomiting after surgery?

Regional Anesthesia

What is a spinal block?

What is an epidural?

What are the side effects of a spinal block or epidural?

When can I receive an epidural during labor?

Can an epidural during childbirth harm my baby?

What is the difference between regional and general anesthesia for a C-section?

Could anesthesia harm my baby if I need surgery while pregnant?

Sleep Apnea

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

How is obstructive sleep apnea treated?

Can I have anesthesia if I have obstructive sleep apnea?