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Outpatient Surgery (cont.)

The Outpatient Surgery Procedure

For the procedure, the individual is positioned on his or her side, stomach, or back.

Throughout the surgery, the anesthesia team closely monitors the individual to ensure his or her safety and comfort. Medication is given to the person not only to provide anesthesia but also to control the heart rate and blood pressure.

Commonly used medications include the following:

  • Midazolam (Versed) - A benzodiazepine that helps decrease anxiety and cause amnesia
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic, Transdermal, Sublimaze Injection), Morphine, Hydromorphone - Narcotics that lower the pain of surgery and decrease anxiety
  • Propofol (Diprivan) - A hypnotic that can be used to induce anesthesia or to maintain sedation
  • Volatile agents (gases) - The inhaled medication that keeps a person from feeling anything

After Outpatient Surgery

With the completion of surgery, the anesthesia team brings the individual to a recovery room where he or she continues to awaken fully from the sedation. Recovery can take from 1 hour to several hours.

Ideally, the individual wakes up with minimal to no pain or discomfort. If significant pain is experienced, a nurse should be informed immediately. The recovery nurse monitors and treats the individual if other problems arise, such as nausea, vomiting, chills, and low or high blood pressure. An anesthesiologist is also available to assist in the recovery room.

Going Home from Outpatient Surgery

All outpatient centers have strict discharge criteria. The individual must meet the following criteria before being released:

  • Have stable vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, temperature, and pain level)
  • Tolerate food and drink (Tolerating food and drink is important because oral medications may need to be taken to relieve pain or to prevent infection.)
  • Be able to empty bladder
  • Walk unassisted

A responsible adult must be present at the time of discharge to assist the individual in going home. In addition, this adult should be with the individual at all times for the first 24 hours to provide help when necessary and to call for help should a problem arise.

  • Before going home, the person should have written instructions on the following:
    • Whom to contact in the hospital if a problem or complication occurs
    • What medication to take for pain
    • Activity level, and when a return to work is possible
    • When to start eating
    • Where to go if evaluation or admission to a hospital is necessary
Last Reviewed 11/17/2017
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