Hello, I'm Dr Keith Myerson.
I'm a consultant anaesthetist here in sunny Eastbourne,
working for East Sussex Hospitals Trust.
Most people will have an anaesthetic at some stage of their life.
We give between four and six million anaesthetics per year in the UK,
so there's a good chance that you or a close member of your family
will need an anaesthetic for some kind of surgery.
First of all you will see your anaesthetist before the operation.
He or she will come and talk to you, explain what's going to happen
and ask a number of questions about your general health
so that we can get you through this as safely as possible.
There are a number of ways we can anaesthetise people
so that they can have their operation safely and comfortably
and without pain.
First of all there's local anaesthesia,
and for local anaesthesia, what either the surgeon or the anaesthetist does
is actually just freeze the part of your body that's being operated on.
So you would normally be awake and you would know what's happening.
The second type of anaesthetic is called a regional anaesthetic,
and with that the anaesthetist will freeze a larger area of your body
by blocking perhaps a nerve or a group of nerves.
The third type of anaesthetic is a general anaesthetic
and patients are, if you like, fast asleep,
they're not aware of anything going on during that kind of anaesthetic.
Although modern anaesthesia is very safe,
of course there are some complications that can occur.
The more common complications are usually fairly minor,
perhaps a little sore throat after the procedure.
Some people feel sick after the anaesthetic,
and that is unfortunately more common in women.
More serious complications, however, are fortunately very rare indeed.
Normally after general anaesthetics people feel extraordinarily well,
so fortunately we're now able to carry out most surgery in the UK
as day patients,
where the patient comes in and goes home the same day,
or even, as in the theatre suite that we're in now,
half-day surgery, where they come in in the morning,
go home in the afternoon
and another patient has their operation that afternoon.
When it comes to going off to sleep with a general anaesthetic,
the normal way is with a little injection in the back of the hand.
This is not normally very painful,
but if you're particularly concerned, do tell your doctor
and he may be able to use some anaesthetic cream
to numb the area on the back of your hand so it's not too unpleasant.
It's also possible to have gas in order to go off to sleep,
though most people prefer the speed and comfort of an intravenous injection.
After a general anaesthetic you'll be taken from the operating theatre
through to a special recovery area
and there specially trained theatre nurses will look after you
until you're wide awake.
Patients having day surgery are allowed to go home following their surgery,
but only after certain checks have been made.
We'd certainly expect you to be able to eat and drink
and indeed you'll usually be given a cup of tea and some toast
or something to eat before we allow you to leave.
You'll also need transport home
because you're not able to drive after an anaesthetic
because the anaesthetic can affect your judgment.
Indeed you'll find that your motor insurance
doesn't cover you to drive a car
within 24 hours of a general anaesthetic.
Our job is to make things as safe for you as possible.
Our primary concern is your safety
and we'll do our best to make the day go
as smoothly and as safely for you as we possibly can.