As an independent acute care hospital, The London Clinic has the facilities and expertise to deliver general anaesthetics safely and effectively. 

A general anaesthetic is a combination of different drugs that are carefully controlled to give you the best anaesthesia for your procedure.  The aim of a general anaesthetic is to render you unconscious for the entire period of your surgery so that you are in no pain and have no awareness of the operation. 

Having a general anaesthetic always carries a risk and that risk is increased if you have an underlying illness such as heart disease, lung disease, or if you are overweight or obese. For this reason, each patient who comes into The London Clinic for a surgical procedure which requires a general anaesthetic will be given a series of pre-operative checks. 

What do pre-operative checks involve?

You will be assessed for general suitability for a general anaesthetic when your consultant discusses your operation but you will then need to attend for specific tests in the few days before the operation.  These tests will include:

  • Checking your medical history for problems such as asthma, allergic reactions to any drugs, and asking you about current medication for any related or unrelated medical problems.
  • Checking your blood pressure and listening to your heart.
  • Asking you about smoking: if you smoke, all our consultants will strongly recommend that you stop for as long as possible before your operation and resist smoking again for as long as possible afterwards. Smoking reduces your body’s ability to heal wounds, and stopping smoking can make your recovery easier.
  • Finding out about any dental issues: loose teeth, crowns or bridges can be dangerous if they come out while you are being intubated under general anaesthetic.
  • Reminding you about your personal items: you will also need to arrive for surgery without your hearing aid, contact lenses or glasses.

What happens on the day of surgery?

Fasting is important. A general anaesthetic must be given on an empty stomach so that means that you must not eat or drink for several hours before. You will be given exact instructions at your pre-operative check. 

You will be prepared for theatre and will be fitted with compression stockings on your legs to prevent deep vein thrombosis. If you are having an operation on a leg, you may also need drugs too, but, again, you will get detailed information about your particular requirements. 

On arriving at the operating theatre, a cannula will be inserted into the back of one of your hands to give you an injectable anaesthetic, which stays in place to deliver other drugs during and after your surgery. You will not remember much after this point. You may have a mask fitted that is attached to a tube. The tube passes into your throat and is used to supply oxygen and gases that contain anaesthetics.

Monitoring during a general anaesthetic

As your surgery proceeds, your anaesthetist will keep adjusting your dose of anaesthetic and will monitor your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs very closely to make sure you are coping well.  The anaesthetic is carefully timed so that it keeps you asleep for the surgery, but you wake up quickly afterwards. 

Waking up from a general anaesthetic

After your operation is finished, your infusion of anaesthetic will be stopped and you will go to the recovery area. You will regain consciousness but you will feel drowsy and quite disorientated for a while. The anaesthetist will have given you painkillers at the end of the operation so that you should not be in any pain for several hours.  Pain relief will then be given as you need it once you are back in your room.