Post Operative Anesthesia:
Patient controlled analgesia (PCA), is an innovative method for controlling post operative pain. This method allows for pain relief to begin in the recovery room with small frequently repeated doses given through your intravenous line. Once pain control has been achieved, a device which stores a reservoir of pain medication is attached to your intravenous. Maximum and minimum delivery rates are set by your physician after carefully evaluating all the factors which might affect the correct dose. You are given a push button device which controls the medication delivery. This gives control to you, the patient. It is no longer necessary to wait for the nurse to prepare the medication or to wait for the slower onset of an intramuscular injection.
The Department of Anesthesiology at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center provides an acute pain service group which is directed by a licensed (board eligible) or board certified anesthesiologist. One or all members of the team will see each patient daily or as frequently as needed. In addition, because the technique involves the use of potent intravenous medications, a member of the anesthesiology service is present in the hospital around the clock to evaluate and treat any problems which might develop.
Continuous epidural analgesia is another technique used to help manage post operative surgical pain. This involves the injection of an anesthetic into the epidural space where the nerves leave the spinal cord. The tip of a small flexible catheter is then placed inside the epidural space and can remain there for 24 to 72 hours after surgery. This allows your anesthesiologist to maintain satisfactory levels of post operative analgesia by continuously infusing local anesthetic and/or narcotic solutions into the epidural space.
Our patients are under no obligation to use PCA or continuous epidural analgesia for their post operative pain relief. If either of these is not desired for any reason, conventional routes of pain medication will be carefully administered by your attending physician and the nursing staff.
If you want PCA or continuous epidural analgesia for post operative pain relief, upon admission to the hospital you should inform the nurse caring fro you. This will allow you to be identified to a member of the Anesthesia Department so that your PCA or continuous epidural analgesia can be started promptly either prior to your surgery or immediately post op.