Anesthesiology Department Home

Off-Site Anesthesia: Anesthesia Outside of the Operating Room

Tiffany Tedore, MD
Regional Anesthesia Fellow, Hospital for Special Surgery

At Hospital for Special Surgery, anesthesia is not provided only in the operating room. There are many instances when our department provides anesthesia for patients undergoing studies and procedures in other areas of the hospital.

Imaging

Many of our patients require some sort of imaging, including MRI and CT scans, and some people cannot tolerate lying still for these procedures. This is sometimes due to conditions such as claustrophobia or simply because the patient is a small infant or child. If this is the case, an anesthesiologist will speak with the patient or guardian, and a plan will be formulated to make the patient comfortable while providing optimal conditions for the study being obtained. The anesthesia could range from light sedation through an intravenous line to general anesthesia with a breathing tube.

Biopsies with Imaging

When a biopsy for diagnosis is needed, a trip to the operating room is not always warranted. Often, biopsies can be taken in the radiology suite while looking at the area to be biopsied under x-ray or CT guidance. If this is the case, the patient must often lie still for long periods in uncomfortable positions. It is easier for patients to do this if they are given a little sedation by an anesthesiologist. Once again, this can range from light sedation to general anesthesia, depending on the patient and the procedure being obtained. The anesthesiologist will remain with the patient for the entire procedure in order to maintain his or her safety and comfort.

Chronic Pain Procedures under Anesthesia

Patients with chronic pain occasionally need invasive procedures. These can include epidural steroid injections, nerve ablations, and IDET (intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty) procedures. Depending on the invasiveness and pain associated with the procedure, anesthesia may be required. Although the physician performing the procedure is often an anesthesiologist, these patients often require a second anesthesiologist to provide sedation and pain relief while closely monitoring their vital signs. Once again, this can range from light sedation to general anesthesia.

Recovering From Anesthesia Provided Outside of the Operating Room

After any type of anesthesia, patients must be monitored and observed for a period of time. Once the anesthesia and procedure are finished, the patient will be transported to a designated recovery area and monitored by the nursing staff. Once the patient is alert, stable, and able to eat and drink, he or she will be discharged home. Rarely, depending on the type of procedure, the patient will need to spend the night in the hospital.

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