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More Information About Having a Procedure

Important documents

Every procedure involves risk. Below are two kinds of documents that are commonly completed by patients before a procedure.

  • General informed consent: A form is signed prior to the procedure, after a discussion of the risks and benefits of the procedure with the doctor. This form grants permission to proceed with your procedure.
  • Advance directives: Formal documents, written before you get seriously ill, state your choices for health care, or identify the person to make those choices if you are unable to do so.


Anesthesia is medication to prevent pain during a procedure. Before your procedure, a member of the anesthesia team will take your medical history and examine you to determine what kind of anesthesia to use based on your health and the type of procedure you are having. He or she will also talk about the risks and benefits of the anesthesia plan, as well as the alternatives.

On the day of the procedure, a member of the anesthesia team will insert an IV tube in your arm or hand vein to administer medications. In the procedure room, the anesthesia staff will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and blood-oxygen level.

There are three types of anesthesia: general, regional and local (with or without sedation).

  • General anesthesia: General anesthesia means your entire body is "asleep" for the procedure. This usually occurs in two stages. First, you will receive a drug through your IV tube that will make you drift off to sleep and become unaware of what is going on around you. The second stage of general anesthesia keeps you asleep through your procedure. You may breathe anesthesia medication through a mask or breathing tube, or receive it through your IV tube.
  • Regional anesthesia: Regional anesthesia numbs certain areas of the body so that you do not feel pain. Common types of regional anesthesia are epidural, spinal and caudal anesthesia. All of these can numb large areas of your body from your abdomen down to your feet. Another option is called a peripheral nerve block, which numbs smaller areas of your body. With regional anesthesia, you may receive other drugs that will make you drowsy or keep you in a light sleep.
  • Local anesthesia: For some procedures, anesthetic drugs can be injected right around the area of the procedure to numb the area locally. You may be awake and aware during the procedure, or a member of the anesthesia team may give you medicine that makes you drowsy or puts you in a light sleep. Whichever type of anesthesia you have, the procedure room or anesthesia staff will closely monitor your vital signs throughout the procedure.
  • Sedation: Sedation involves the use of pain relievers and sedative drugs to reduce or minimize discomfort during procedures. Patients can receive medications that will permit them to speak and respond to their health care providers during a procedure. Sedation can also be provided to make you very drowsy or keep you in a light sleep. Sedation is commonly used in combination with local anesthesia and with regional anesthesia. It may also be used alone for noninvasive procedures.

Controlling pain after a procedure

As you recover, your doctor will order an appropriate medication for you based on your condition. The nursing staff will assess your pain medication needs throughout your stay.

Two common methods of controlling pain are epidural analgesia (or other forms of nerve blocks) and intravenous patient-controlled analgesia pumps.

  • Epidural analgesia/regional nerve blocks: Epidural analgesia is a common method of pain control for patients who have undergone a total joint replacement, a Cesarean delivery or another procedure on the abdomen or chest. A small plastic tube is placed in your back before procedure that delivers pain medicine continuously right to the nerves that “create” pain. The staff can control the amount of pain medication with a special pump during and after your procedure. Regional nerve block techniques can also be used in a similar manner to control pain after procedures involving the arms or legs.
  • Intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pumps: A PCA pump delivers a prescribed amount of pain medication into your arm vein through an IV tube. You can control the amount of pain medication that flows into your blood by pressing a button on a hand-held device attached to the pump. The pump is programmed so that it will not deliver too much pain medication. Important: Only the patient should use the PCA button.

Getting to Rush

Rush University Medical Center is located just off the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290), five minutes west of Chicago's Loop. It is easily accessible by car and public transportation.

Directions to Rush: