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Ask the Expert: Relieving Pre-Surgery Jitters


Many patients express anxiety about going under anesthesia. While the anesthesiologists at HSS will address all of your concerns, it’s natural to still be worried — that’s why an essay by Bill Boggs, author and television personality, caught my eye. Entitled “Major Surgery: Facing the Fear,” Boggs wrote about how he dealt with his own pre-surgery jitters. The methods he used to keep calm before surgery are useful reminders for any patient undergoing an orthopedic procedure.

Control your imagination

Boggs said that he had to stop thinking about the steps ahead of his recovery, writing “when we project our fears onto the future…we create an imagined scenario that frightens us.”

It’s important to listen to what your surgical team has to say about your surgery, and reel in your own imagination when it comes to preparing for a surgical procedure. The Department of Anesthesiology offers pre-anesthesia consultations for those who have questions or concerns about their anesthetic care.

Have faith in a positive outcome

Boggs compared the experience of anesthesia to that of being on a plane: you have to relinquish control, just for a while, to the pilot. You trust your pilot and crew to get you to your destination at 800 miles per hour – those same principles of trust apply to the anesthesiologist who will get you safely through your procedure.

Find music that calms you

Music in the operating room (OR) has recently been a hot-topic.  For example, my colleague, Dr. Quinn, recently discussed how and why HSS anesthesiologists play music during your surgery. Likewise, Boggs mentioned that he played a soundtrack of his favorite songs to help reduce his anxiety before surgery. So, I asked my team to put together a list of their go-to comfort songs in hopes that the music that comforts us will put you at ease, too.


Dr. Gregory A. Liguori is the Director of the Department of Anesthesiology and Anesthesiologist-in-Chief at Hospital for Special Surgery. The Department of Anesthesiology at the Hospital for Special Surgery is the premier department in the world for the practice of regional anesthesia for orthopedics.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.