While you probably won’t have a choice of anaesthetist for your surgery, you may be able to discuss choices of anaesthesia and post-op pain relief with your anaesthetist.
Heart valve replacement is usually done using general anaesthetic.
The anaesthetist is responsible for pre-medication before surgery, your anaesthesia and wellbeing during surgery, any blood transfusions you may need, and your post-operative pain relief.
Ask your surgeon if you can meet with the anaesthetist before the day of the procedure. This way you won’t be hurried or stressed, and can be involved in the planning.
You may be offered medication to prevent nausea, reduce stomach acid or help you relax. If you think you’ll be feeling anxious before surgery, ask if you can have something to relax you.
With general anaesthetic, you’ll be unconscious for your procedure and a tube will be inserted into your throat to help you breathe. You may wake up with a sore throat from the tube. General anaesthetics occassionally cause post-operative nausea and vomiting. A general anaesthetic may be combined with some local anaesthetic into your wound to provide pain relief after your surgery.
If you’re overweight or obese, there are increased risks associated with anaesthesia.
Pain relief after surgery
After surgery you’ll be given pain relief prescribed by your anaesthetist. By enabling you to move and breathe without too much discomfort, good pain relief can help reduce your risk of complications.
Patient controlled analgesia (PCA) is often used in the first day or so. It’s an opiate drug delivered through a cannula into a vein. You can control the amount of pain relief you receive by pressing a button.
Injections of pain relieving medication can be delivered by cannula or into a muscle.
Tablets or liquids can be given at regular times, or when pain starts to bother you.
Print this page to take when you meet with your surgeon and anaesthetist, so you can make sure all your questions are answered.