Anaesthesia explained

Published: 01/03/2021

In the recovery room

After most anaesthetics, you will be cared for in a recovery room close to the operating theatre. Surgeons and anaesthetists are close by if there is any change in your condition.

Staff in the recovery room will include nurses and ODPs. They are trained to deal with critical situations that can happen after surgery, such as bleeding or low blood pressure. They will also treat any pain or sickness that you have. Most people receive extra oxygen in the recovery room, through a face mask or through little tubes that sit under the nostrils.

If you gave dentures, hearing aids or glasses to staff, they will usually be returned to the ward for safe keeping.

You will be taken back to the ward when the recovery room staff are satisfied that you are safely recovering normally. You can eat or drink according to the instructions of the surgeon and/or anaesthetist.

High dependency unit (HDU) or intensive care unit (ICU)

After some major operations, you may need care in the HDU or ICU. If this is planned, it will be discussed with you beforehand.

For more information about this care, please see the leaflet Your anaesthetic for major surgery
with planned high dependency care or intensive care afterwards

Blood transfusion 

Blood is lost during most operations. The anaesthetist will give you fluids through your cannula to make up for this loss. If a larger amount of blood loss is expected, your healthcare team may use a machine which recycles your blood so it can be returned to you. This is called ‘cell salvage’.

Your anaesthetist may also need to consider giving you a blood transfusion. For more
information about a blood transfusion, please see the information on the NHS website: