Anesthesia for Same-Day or Outpatient Surgery





Anesthesia for Same-Day Surgery

The latest safe, short-acting anesthetic medications and sophisticated monitoring devices enable anesthesiologists to provide their patients with the most up-to-date and best medical care possible every day. As a result, an increasing number of surgical procedures are performed safely on an outpatient basis. Patients come to the hospital, have surgery and go home, all on the same day. They can continue recuperating in the comfort of home and avoid costs that insurance might not cover.

Same-day surgery usually is elective and can range in duration from a few minutes to a few hours. It is frequently performed in the ambulatory surgical center and may use any of the forms of anesthesia: local anesthesia with intravenous sedation, regional nerve blocks, and general anesthesia. These pages include helpful information to prepare you or a loved one for a same-day surgical procedure. If you have any additional questions, be sure to discuss them with your physician or anesthesiologist.

The Preoperative Visit

In order to achieve a clear understanding of your needs, the anesthesiologist must obtain information regarding your medical condition prior to surgery. This consultation may be on the day of surgery or a few days before surgery during a preoperative visit. This visit frequently includes blood and laboratory tests or other preliminary examinations, such as EKG or X-rays.

This prior evaluation gives you the opportunity to discuss your medical history, various anesthetic options and their risks, and pertinent questions of concern with the anesthesiologist. It also gives you the chance to learn about the many safety precautions your anesthesiologist will provide during your surgery.

You should bring a list of all medications that you take on a regular basis or have taken recently to the preoperative visit. It is best to include the dose information from the medication label on your list. The dose is commonly shown in milligrams (mg). For example, "100 mg" stands for 100 milligrams. It is important that your anesthesiologist have a detailed medical history and drug list because it will be used, along with the laboratory data, to make many important anesthetic decisions.

For most procedures, you will be told to fast the night before your operation. It is very important that you do not eat or drink anything during that time unless otherwise instructed by your anesthesiologist.

The Day of Surgery

If you are having same day surgery, the goals of your anesthesiologist are to:

  • Provide you with the best medical care possible
  • Deliver safe and satisfactory pain relief during your surgery
  • Return you to an alert, awake and comfortable state of health so that you may be discharged within a few hours

To achieve these goals, your anesthesiologist takes into consideration your current and past medical condition, as well as the type, location and estimated length of the surgical procedure.

After surgery, you will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), commonly called the recovery room, and closely watched for any immediate postoperative problems. When you meet the discharge criteria determined specifically for you –based on your personal medical condition, the type of surgery and the criteria of the ambulatory surgical center – you will be released to go home with a reliable friend or family member. It is extremely important that you arrange for a responsible adult to take you home from the ambulatory surgical center because your coordination and various reflexes may be impaired for at least 24 hours making normal activities, such as driving, difficult.

If you do not feel well or experience pain after surgery, tell the nurses or anesthesiologist in the PACU so they can determine how best to help you. You shouldn't be reluctant to tell them how you feel or ask any questions you may have. You will not be released to go home until you have recovered sufficiently from the anesthesia.

Occasionally, some patients need additional care or experience difficulties following surgery and may need to be observed or treated in the hospital overnight until they are well enough to go home.

Other Resources

Ambulatory Surgery Safety

Office-Based Anesthesia and Surgery 

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The ASA does not employ physician anesthesiologists on staff and cannot respond to patient inquiries regarding specific medical conditions or anesthesia administration. Please direct any questions related to anesthetics, procedures or treatment outcomes to the patient’s anesthesiologist or general physician.