The Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is dedicated to the best possible care of the patients undergoing procedures on the lungs, airways, chest and esophagus. We work very closely with our thoracic surgeons to ensure a safe, comfortable operation and recovery for over 700 patients who we care for each year.
Prior to Your Operation
If you have special questions for an anesthesiologist or you have a medical condition that may affect your anesthetic, your surgeon may make an appointment for you to see an anesthesiologist. Typically, one of the thoracic nurse practitioners will contact the thoracic anesthesiologists. We will then contact you to discuss your specific question or concern.
When You Arrive for Your Operation
We meet with all of our patients prior to their arrival in the operating room. We thoroughly review your medical history, allergies, surgical plan, and the plan for the treatment of your postoperative pain. We will then obtain a formal signed consent for the planned anesthetic.
We are very concerned with your comfort after the operation and studies have shown that patients fear pain upon awakening as much as they fear the operation. For many of our patients having lung and esophageal surgery, we very strongly recommend an epidural for postoperative pain relief. For many patients, such as those with a smoking history, the epidural is not an option – it is a necessity. This is the most profound pain relief available, and not only is your comfort important, but you also have to be comfortable enough to cough and breathe deeply to prevent postoperative lung infection.
For patients undergoing lung and esophageal surgery, we will often employ an arterial catheter. This is a small catheter that is placed into an artery in the wrist and allows us to monitor blood pressure with every beat of the heart.
Every patient has an individualized recovery plan developed for them. This is determined by your health, operation, age and medical conditions. As anesthesiologists, we will be involved in your care and treating your pain if you have an epidural catheter. The Acute Pain Team will see you every morning that you have an epidural in place. They will ensure your comfort and your smooth transition to home medications.
E. Andrew Ochroch, MD, MSCE
Stanley J. Aukburg, MD