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Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine – Patient Education and Resources

Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine – Patient Education and Resources

Your anesthesiologist is an important partner in your medical experience. Learn more about our anesthesiology resources.

Explore our patient education resources, from pre-surgery info to what to expect during anesthesia.

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If you’re scheduled to have surgery, an appointment with the Department of Anesthesia may be required. This will be scheduled by your surgery scheduling coordinator. Please allow two hours. 

This visit will include:

  • A medical history review, physical examination, and anesthesia evaluation
  • Pre-operative blood tests and other diagnostic studies if required
  • Answers to questions regarding your surgery, anesthesia, and the recovery period

Please bring the following information with you to this appointment:

  • Name, address, and telephone number of your family physician and specialist
  • Insurance cards and insurance claim forms to process your registration information
  • All of your medications, including their names, dosages, and the frequency with which you take them. It may be simplest to bring all of your medications in their original bottles. Please be sure to include all over-the-counter and herbal medications.
  • The results of any laboratory studies, particularly major heart or lung tests, such as cardiac catheterization, stress tests, echocardiogram, pulmonary function tests, or CT scans, that you’ve had recently. 
  • The types, dates, and locations of any prior surgery, particularly surgical procedures in which you had any complication.
  • A description of any devices, such as pacemakers or automatic internal cardioverters or defibrillators that you may have in your body, including the card issued with the device. 

What types of anesthesia are there?

The basic purpose of anesthesia is to take away the pain associated with a surgical or medical procedure. Painful sensations travel from the site of surgery to your brain through a network of thousands of nerve cells. 

Different types of anesthesia include:

  • Local anesthesia: Local anesthetic is injected near the surgical site to deaden the nerve endings and remove pain before it starts. This type of anesthesia is usually associated with numbness at the surgical site, and sometimes difficulty in moving an extremity, but few other effects.
  • Regional anesthesia: Local anesthetic is injected near one of the major nerves that provide sensation to an arm, leg, or other larger area of your body. This type of anesthesia prevents the movement of the painful impulses for up to several hours. It often leads to numbness and weakness of an entire arm or leg, until it wears off.
  • Spinal, epidural, or caudal anesthesia: This type of anesthesia numbs the major nerves in and around the spinal cord. It can be in the form of an injection at almost any level, from the tailbone to the upper back. It numbs a large area of the body, often the entire body below the waist. This type of anesthesia usually lasts for several hours, but may be injected continuously through a small plastic tube, to provide pain relief for up to several days. It is often associated with numbness and weakness of the legs and lower body. 
  • General anesthesia: This type of anesthesia interrupts the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain, by making you unconscious so your brain doesn’t receive or interpret any pain signals from the rest of the body. General anesthesia also interrupts other functions of the brain such as the control of movement and breathing. During general anesthesia, your anesthesiologist must perform many of these functions, including breathing, for you.
  • Sedation, “twilight sleep” or “monitored anesthesia care”: This type of anesthesia, which is becoming more widely used with the development of new medications, is often used for procedures which are uncomfortable, though not really painful, or along with local or regional anesthesia. The administration of medications into the vein, by an experienced anesthesiologist, can provide pain relief and an extreme calming effect. In many cases you can “sleep” naturally through a procedure, while still maintaining the ability to breath for yourself.

What role does my anesthesiologist play in my operation?

Anesthesiologists manage and treat any medical problems which may be present before surgery, and that may be detected as part of the preoperative visit.  During surgery, advanced technology is used to monitor the body’s functions. Anesthesiologists interpret these monitors to properly diagnosis, regulate, and treat the body’s organ systems. They also manage medical conditions that develop during or immediately after surgery. 

Can I choose my anesthesiologist?

There are approximately 50 anesthesiologists on staff at Penn State Health. Many of these anesthesiologists have special skills and concentrate on the management of specific types of patients. Though we can’t promise the availability of a specific anesthesiologist on any particular day, we’ll do our best to arrange for a specific anesthesiologist to care for you, and will work with your surgeon to choose a date for surgery on which they both are available. 


Can I eat and drink before surgery?

Under most circumstances, you should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before surgery, except for essential medications. However, there are circumstances under which you may be able to have clear liquids, such as apple juice, black coffee, tea, or water, up until 3 hours before surgery. You should receive specific instructions from your surgeon or anesthesiologist. If you have not, or have any questions, please call the preoperative evaluation center at 717-531-6886.

Should I take my usual medications before surgery?

You should receive specific instructions from your surgeon or anesthesiologist regarding which medications to take, and which not to take, the morning of surgery.   

Unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon or anesthesiologist, stop all aspirin and aspirin-containing products such as Anacin, Bufferin, and Alka-Seltzer, one week before surgery. You may continue to use Tylenol as needed up until the day of surgery. Unless instructed otherwise, stop all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, and Aleve, four days before surgery.

Will herbal medications and dietary supplements affect my anesthesia and surgery?

Some commonly used herbal medications may affect your anesthesia and surgery. It’s best to discontinue the use of these medications several days before surgery, as directed by your surgeon or anesthesiologist. 

Contact us

Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine
P.O. Box 850, MC H187
Hershey, PA 17033

Penn State Health Children's Hospital
Penn State College of Medicine
Penn State Cancer Institute
Penn State University