A general anaesthetic is required for the successful and painless completion of the planned operation. You will be given a questionnaire and an information sheet as well as detailed information about the various anaesthetic procedures and post-operative pain therapy prior to the anaesthetic consultation.
Anaesthesia eliminates the perception of pain during surgery. It goes without saying that safety during anaesthesia has top priority. We nevertheless understand that many patients may be apprehensive about the anaesthetic. Our anaesthetists provide detailed information about the anaesthesia in a personal consultation. This will help to reduce your fears and builds confidence. Together with the patient, we determine the most appropriate anaesthesia – be it general, regional or local anaesthesia. We also make sure that the post-operative period is as pain-free as possible, because nobody should suffer any unnecessary pain. Explanations and detailed meetings about the operation and the anaesthetic are a matter of course for us.
The anaesthetic procedure
The anaesthetist will explain the general procedure and the advantages and disadvantages of the different anaesthetic procedures in a face-to-face meeting with you. Your anaesthetist will work with you to select the most appropriate and the least stressful anaesthetic procedure for the operation you are about to undergo. The patient information sheet entitled "Anaesthesia information and consent" will help you prepare for this consultation and provide you with information about the different procedures and any associated risks. Please read the leaflet and note down any questions you may have.
Make sure to carefully fill out the anaesthesia questionnaire and send it to us as soon as possible to optimise your preparedness for the consultation. We are available to answer any of your questions over the phone on 041 399 33 15 or by e-mail at praeoperative.sprechstunde@. zgks.ch
- Do not eat anything for 6 hours or more prior to hospital admission.
- You may drink water up to 2 hours prior to hospital admission
- Please remove any contact lenses, make-up, nail polish, artificial nails, jewellery and piercings
- Medication that you take on a regular basis, may only be taken on the day of the operation, after consultation with the attending doctor. Please bring your medication in its original packaging. Also please read the "Information sheet on your anaesthesia and operation", which you received during the preoperative consultation.
- If you wish, you can be administered a sedative immediately before the operation. You will be taken to the operating theatre in your bed in due course, where you will be looked after by the surgical team.
Preparations for anaesthesia begin in the foyer of the operating theatre. They include monitoring of heart function (ECG monitor) and fitting of the blood pressure cuff. The finger sensor continuously measures blood oxygen content (pulse oximetry). In addition, a venous cannula is inserted on the forearm or back of the hand for the drip. This infusion is used to administer fluid and medication. The rest of the procedure then depends on the specific anaesthetic procedure you choose.
Nowadays, all anaesthetic procedures are very safe, and the risk of developing a life-threatening complication is extremely low, even in critically ill patients. All vital bodily functions are comprehensively monitored and, where necessary, instantly supported (e.g. heart activity, circulatory and respiratory function). Temporary or even permanent damage as a result of anaesthesia is extremely rare in these days.
There may be additional risks if any particular measures are required. This applies to the insertion of catheters or the administration of blood (blood transfusion) and/or blood components. Patients who explicitly refuse a blood transfusion (e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses) are asked to submit a written statement to this effect.
The anaesthesia generally lasts a little longer than the actual operation. After the operation we will continue to look after your well-being by controlling your circulation and breathing and by providing pain therapy as needed. A large range of pain relief medications and methods are available for this purpose, which we apply step by step based on individual needs.
Depending on the type and extent of surgery, postoperative monitoring may take place in the monitoring ward or in the intensive care unit. Please note that transfer to the intensive care unit is usually prophylactic and serves to avoid any potential complications.
Please note that you are not allowed to drive for 24 hours after the anaesthesia, as your road awareness may be impaired. You should therefore organise to be escorted home well in advance if you are having outpatient surgery. If you require any support for transportation (taxi), please contact your nurse or the admission staff. They will be more than happy to organise transportation services or a taxi for you.
You are also not allowed to take any important decisions under the influence of anaesthetic medication, such as signing legal contracts.
The information page of the Swiss Society for Anaesthesia and Resuscitation SSAR/SGAR provides further important information on anaesthesia.
Main anaesthesia procedures
Under general anaesthesia, the perception of pain and consciousness are switched off with different drugs until the procedure is finished. In most cases, breathing needs to be artificially supported, but you will not feel any of this.
General anaesthesia has now evolved into an exceptionally safe anaesthetic procedure. The technical possibilities of anaesthesia management, patient monitoring and modern drugs have almost eliminated all risks even for sick and elderly patients. There will however always be a minimal residual risk associated with all anaesthesia techniques, largely due to unforeseen events.
General anaesthesia guide
After completing the anaesthetic preparations, we will administer a strong sleeping drug through the drip. For your safety, oxygen will be supplied concurrently via a face mask. As soon as you fall asleep, we take control of your breathing and circulation. The anaesthetics can be administered via your blood vessels (intravenously) or via the lungs (anaesthetic gases). The depth of anaesthesia can be easily controlled by using short-acting substances that are continuously administered. The anaesthesia is tailored to the patient's needs and allows the patient to wake up free of pain and in a comfortable state immediately after the operation. Gagging, coughing and panic attacks during recovery are a thing of the past.
Is it possible to wake up during the operation?
This often-voiced fear of patients is now unfounded, because in addition to monitoring vital organ functions, the depth of anaesthesia is also regularly checked by your anaesthetist. By continuously recording brain activity (EEG), the depth of sleep can be measured and the anaesthesia can be optimally adapted to requirements.
Does general anaesthesia impair my memory?
Memory is a complex process and is affected by many factors. The physical strain of the operation and subsequent circulatory reactions alone, as well as the intake of sedatives and painkillers, may temporarily affect brain performance. Despite this, no lasting impairment of memory has so far been demonstrated for modern anaesthetics.
Will I feel nauseous after the operation?
Nausea and vomiting post surgery used to be quite common. Modern anaesthetics have reduced the incidence of nausea after surgery to the extent that this is no longer a normal side effect of anaesthesia. Nausea is influenced by many factors, such as genetic disposition, hunger and stress. Some painkillers can also contribute to nausea. If you still feel nauseous after the operation, we can administer very effective medication to combat nausea.
Specific risks of general anaesthesia
- Tooth damage (particularly in cases involving difficult intubation conditions and decayed teeth)
- Aspiration (inhalation) of stomach contents into the lungs
- Vocal cord injury
- Difficulty swallowing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shivering, feeling cold
- Micturition problems
Many surgeries have the option of only making the affected part of the body insensitive to pain. During this type of regional anaesthesia you can remain awake, listen to music on headphones, or even sleep with the help of sleeping or pain medication.
After administration of the local anaesthetic for the regional anaesthesia, the target area of the body will first become warm and then numb for some time with painlessness. There is also a temporary loss of muscle strength.
If the effect of a regional anaesthesia is insufficient, other painkillers can be added at any time. In rare cases the change to general anaesthetic is necessary.
For major operations, partial and general anaesthesia are often used in combination, to facilitate pain management after the operation.
For minor procedures, with or without local anaesthesia, the anaesthesia team provides close monitoring and, if necessary, administers sedatives, painkillers and other medications to ensure that the procedure is safe and comfortable.
The administration of sedatives and painkillers can lead to a reduced ability to breathe and a temporary loss of consciousness.
Obstetric pain therapy
Labour pains during childbirth vary greatly from one woman to another. That is due to a number of factors, such as the size and position of the foetus, the duration of labour, the time spent in labour, the number of previous births, etc.
The standard method of pain relief is obstetric epidural anaesthesia, a pain therapy using an epidural catheter. This method is designed to only numb the pain-conducting nerve fibres without any loss of muscle strength, so that you can actively participate in the birth.
As part of your pregnancy check-up, before the estimated date of delivery you will receive an information sheet about regional anaesthesia during labour. We kindly ask you to read it, answer the questions, and sign it. This is important because there is very little time during labour for an explanatory consultation if you are going to have regional anaesthesia.
Secretariat Anaesthesia & Intensive care
T +41 41 399 33 00
F +41 41 399 33 01