The operating theatre

You will lie on a bed that is wheeled into the operating theatre, which is a purpose-designed, very clean room where the surgery occurs. The surgical team will wear caps, masks and gowns to help prevent infection.

If you are having a general anaesthetic, the anaesthetist will put a small tube (cannula) into a vein in the back of your hand or arm. The anaesthetic 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. Some people say that having a general anaesthetic feels like a deep, dreamless sleep.

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 anaesthetic will begin to wear off slowly, or you will be given more medicine to reverse the effects. You’ll be taken to the recovery room, and your vital signs will be checked until you are fully awake.

This information was last reviewed in April 2019
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