The operating theatre
You might walk into the operating theatre or lie on a bed that is wheeled into the operating theatre. This is a purpose-designed, very clean room where the surgery occurs. The surgical team will wear caps, masks and gowns to help prevent infection.
The anaesthetist will put a small tube (cannula) into a vein in the back of your hand or arm. The anaesthetic drugs will be injected into the cannula. You might feel a slight stinging sensation, but once the drugs start to work you won’t be aware of what’s happening.
During surgery under general anaesthetic, a machine called a ventilator helps you breathe or may breathe for you. The anaesthetist constantly checks your vital signs (heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels) to ensure they remain at normal levels. They also give you pain medicine so you are comfortable when you wake up.
When the surgery is finished, the anaesthetist will stop giving you the anaesthetic drugs and may give you other drugs to reverse the effects of general anaesthesia. You’ll be taken to the recovery room, and your vital signs will be monitored until you are fully awake.
Podcast for people affected by cancer
Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and University of Sydney, NSW; Chanelle Curnuck, Dietitian – Dietetics and Nutrition, Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group, WA; Department of Anaesthetics, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jessica Feeney, Nurse Unit Manager, Breast, Endocrine and Gynaecology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; A/Prof Richard Gallagher, Head and Neck Surgeon, Director of Cancer Services and Head and Neck Cancer Services, St Vincent’s Health Network, NSW; John Leung, Consumer; Rohan Miegel, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, University of Queensland and Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital, QLD; Lucy Pollerd, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Suzanne Ryan, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Department of General Surgery, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Rebecca Yeoh, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
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