Anesthesia & You

Anesthesia & You

Monitors

After arriving in the operating room, several monitors will be applied routinely during your procedure.

They include:
  • Blood pressure cuff - This will tell us your blood pressure throughout the case.
  • Pulse oximeter - This monitors your pulse and the amount of oxygen saturated in your blood.
  • EKG - Monitors the electrical activity of your heart.
  • BIS (awareness) monitor - This is a sticker palced on your forehead for general anesthesia. It will generate a number, giving us information as to your level of awareness. The purpose is to prevent those very rare instances of "recall" during general anesthesia.
  • Other monitors used to observe your status include:
    • Heart and lung sounds with a special stethoscope
    • Your body temperature
    • The amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide you are breathing in and out and the amounts of medicines we are administering to you with the anesthesia machine
    • "Twitch monitor" which measures how strong and how well your nerves and muscles work together

There are also monitors or devices that may be placed only in certain specific circumstances.

They include:

  • Arterial line - Much like an IV, this is a small catheter usually placed in an artery of the wrist. It provides us with continuous blood pressure measurements and allows us to draw blood for laboratory analyses. The site is numbed before the catheter is placed.
  • Central line - This is a long IV that is palced in a vein in the neck or the upper chest. In addition to giving us a place for fluid and medication administration, it also monitors certain pressures in the heart. The site is numbed before the line is inserted.
  • Swan Ganz catheter - This requires a central line and tells us even more about your heart pressures.
  • Lumbar drain - Rarely used, this monitor resembles an epidural. It is a small tube placed into the spinal canal between the bones in the back. It is useful as a monitor of pressure within the brain and spinal cord and can be used to treat high pressures in the brain and spinal cord by draining the fluid surrounding these structures. This will usually be placed after a patient is asleep.
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