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Is a general anaesthesia for surgical abortion safe?

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As a possible pain management method, during surgical abortion, is general anaesthesia safe? I have been told it increases the risk in an abortion, but what exactly is the risk? And how much of a risk is it?
Don't they have professional anaesthesiaologists that can assess how much to give u for your body weight, etc..? Plus they monitor you, so if yout breathing became shallow they could just give you oxygen, right?
Also, what about Deep IV Sedation? I have the same questions about this, as well as which one is less of a risk?
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First Helper User Profile Gaelic
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replied December 28th, 2011
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Those are questions you should be asking your doctor, and our anathesologist the day of your operation. As far a general anathesia it is one of the most common methods of sedation used here in the U.S so I wouldn't assume it is unsafe when administered by a professional correctly.
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replied December 31st, 2011
brittntc- you said that I should ask the anaesthesiaologist on the day of my procedure... Is that common? That you have to wait until then to speak w/ them about possible anaesthesia options? B/c I have an appt this Wed and that's what they told me too...that I can speak w/ the anaesthesiaologist & the Dr. before the procedure. But it just seems weird to me that I can't speak to them about this before that so that I have some time to think about it. I've had a hard time getting to see a Dr 1st at these places. It seems like they rush to make the appt w/ you before you have a chance to talk to the actual Dr. Should I be worried? Or is this how its generally done?
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replied December 28th, 2011
Thanks for the reply. I've had trouble getting anyone to reply to my questions on this forum. And the problem In having is some places don't allow you to use general anaesthesia during an abortion, & Im wondering why?
I can not seem to get a good answer. Planned Parenthood doesn't & Im not getting a good reason why not.
What good is this forum if you post many posts & no one answers them?
The reason Im asking here, is because I want real answers from real people who might've had it done, not just the 1 Dr. you go to.
Im just freaking out here cuz I don't think I can go through it any other way...
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replied December 28th, 2011
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jessamy80,

By definition, general endotrachial anesthesia is an anesthestic that puts the patient so deep into sedation that the respiratory centers do not function, and as such, the patient has to be intubated (breathing tube down throat, with machine breathing for you).

The biggest risks associated with GEA is during the induction phase, or when the patient is "put under". If the patient develops a bronchospasm, the tube may not be able to be placed. This, of course, would affect oxygenation of the tissues. If an airway is not established somehow quickly, brain injury due to anoxia can occur. How often does this happen? Very, very rarely.

The other risk is the manifestation of a previously undiagnosised medical problem. On occasion, the patient may have, for example, a cardiomyopathy, which has not really been a problem. But, when he/she is put under the stresses of anesthesia, the disorder shows itself. If the condition is serious enough, it can cause problems (death). This is much more common in children, then in adults. And, again, it is very rare.

Another is reaction to medications. But, this can occur with any anesthetic.


You can have regional anesthesia with sedation. Where a block is given for pain control, but the patient is sedated, so that he/she sleeps. But, it is not so deep of a sleep that he/she cannot control his/her own airway. The patient breaths on his/her own.

Conscious sedation is just enough sedation so that the patient doesn't really care what is going on. Problem here, the patient may move around. Pain control is not quite as good, but the patient is usually amnestic to the events. Though he/she may speak to the personel in the OR, he/she will not remember anything.


All anesthesia carries risks and benefits.


Like brittntc stated, these are questions you should ask of your surgeon and anesthesiologist. Before any procedure there has to be an anesthestic evaluation. This may be done by an anesthetist (nurse or PA), it is done under the supervision of an 'ologist (anesthesiologist). This is the time to ask any and all questions.

Most of the time, unless the surgery calls for a specific type of anesthesia, the surgeon will allow "patient's choice". Again, some cases have to be done under general, because relaxation of the muscles is required, so a paralytic agent has to be given. Thus the patient could not breath on his/her own. Other procedures have to be done under local with sedation, because the patient has to be aware during the procedure (many brain surgeries are done this way).

Again, it depends upon the procedure, surgeon's choice, patient's overall health, and the patient's choice.


So, discuss all of your questions and concerns with the anesthesia staff prior to the procedure.

Good luck.
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replied December 28th, 2011
Thank you Gaelic, for the detailed reply to my concerns.
It is very helpful, I'm trying to get as much information as possible about this.
Plus, the couple abortion centers I went to weren't that helpful with some of the details regarding this. They said I could talk to the Dr. & anaesthesiaologist right before my scheduled appt. But that just feels weird to me, that I can't talk to them 1st about the various methods of sedation & anaesthesia before I actually go in for this. They said they don't want to schedule the anaestesiaologist if Im not going to do it that way. Well how am I supposed to know which way until they explain it to me?
So I really appreciate your help regarding this. I've been looking all over the internet for information about this, but haven't had much luck w/ getting real detailed information.
The regional anaesthesia w/ sedation you mentioned, where you are asleep but still breathing on your own, what is that called exactly?
Or is that what its "called"? Is that the same thing as Deep IV sedation?
I want to make sure to discuss the correct thing with my Dr/anaestesiaologist.

Thanks again!
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replied December 29th, 2011
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jessamy80,

It is called just that, regional anesthesia with sedation.

Depending upon the procedure, that could be a spinal, epidural, or nerve block. When this is done, the area that is being operated upon is "blocked", but the patient is given medicines through the IV so they can be as drowsy as they wish. Some patients like to be awake and know what is going on, some prefer to be in a light sleep from which they can be easily aroused, and others just want to be out. But, the good thing is that you breath on your own and do not have to have an endotrachial tube put down.

The anesthesia providers can also give you medicine so you won't remember anything. You may remember being in the pre-op holding area, but then the next thing you will know about will be in the PACU (recovery room). Again, some patients do not want this, others do.


The types of anesthesia are basicaly the GEA, or general, regional, and local. The local is like when you have stitches. Just the area being worked on is numbed up. There are several types of regional, like stated before. Most patients have heard of the spinal and epidural. But there are nerve blocks like the axillary, scalene, femoral, etc that block a part of the body. Then there is a method called a Bier Block, which is another type of regional, used mostly for hand or foot surgery.


So, for pelvic surgery, usually your choices would be general or regional. The regional could be a spinal, epidural, or caudal block. The caudal block just numbs up the perineum. It is also called a saddle block.

If you pick a regional, you need to decided how awake you want to be and if you want to remember anything or not.


When you speak with the anesthesia provider ask as many questions as you need. They really prefer that you understand what is going on.


Good luck. You'll be okay. The big thing is how awake do you want to be.
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Users who thank Gaelic for this post: jessamy80 

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replied December 31st, 2011
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jessamy80,

As to when you speak to the anesthesia provider is determined by the practice that is providing the anesthesia for the surgeon.

It is best if you have a chance to speak to the anesthesia provider well before the procedure. In some settings, you go through a pre-op phase, where you see your surgeon for the history and physical (H&P), get any tests done that may be required, speak with anesthesia, talk to the nursing staff, and arrange for post-op care. This is usually for large major operations, for patients who are not in the best physical condition who require a lot of pre-op testing, and for patients who will be staying overnight in the hospital.

Usually, when the anesthesia evaluation is done before the day of the procedure, it is actually done more for the anesthesia provider and the operating room staff, so that arrangements can be made in terms of scheduling patients in specific rooms and at specific times. So, that there are providers and equipment available.


If the patient is seen earlier, he/she will still have to be evaluated by anesthesia on the day of the procedure. So, in cases, such as in surgical centers, where the same procedure is done over and over, and there is really no problems with scheduling and such, anesthesia usually speaks with the patient just prior to the procedure.

However, you should be able to get the name of the physician providing your anesthesia from your surgeon's office. You should be able to contact the anesthesiologist's office, explaining that you are going to have X procedure on such and such a date, and that you have questions. Is it possible that you could speak to someone about the anesthesia that will be provided? So, usually, even if the evaluation is not until the day of the procedure, you should be able to speak to someone ahead of time.


Good luck.
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replied December 31st, 2011
Thank you for your reply. I'll call them on Monday & hopefully I can speak w/ someone- over the phone at least- about this, and/or get the anesthesiologists name & call them w/ questions.
I appreciate your response though, I was worried that the places here were just unprofessional in this regard, & I've never had to do something like this before so Im unsure of what routine is.
I told them I'm interested in anaesthesia or deep IV sedation for my operation & they said they could do that & that I'd be able to speak with the anesthesiologist on the day of the procedure,(as well as the Dr), but I was worried I'd get there & that they'd assumed I wanted the GEA method where they have to put a tube down your throat.
But it sounds like they'll talk to you then about the different anaesthesia methods available so that makes me feel a lot better.
Ill call & clarify this though just to make sure.

Thanks again, its most helpful!
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