What Is Perianesthesia?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 09 February 2020
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Perianesthesia refers to the preoperative and postoperative care of a patient who undergoes surgery with general anesthesia. This treatment commonly occurs in a special unit in a hospital with nurses trained and certified in perianesthesia nursing. Perianesthesia nurses prepare patients for the surgical procedure and monitor them until they awaken after surgery. The job is considered a specialty in the nursing profession.

Before a patient has surgery, a perianesthesia nurse explains the procedure and the recovery process. He or she might assess the patient for any issues that might arise from the use of drugs to put the patient under. The nurse might also explore any psychological or religious factors the patient considers important. A nurse typically works with the patient’s family while obtaining the patient’s medical history of previous surgeries or health issues.

During the actual operation, perianesthesia care includes monitoring the patient’s breathing and heart rate. The nurse typically reports the patient’s condition to the anesthesiologist who administered drugs to render the patient unconscious. The surgeon, anesthesiologist, and the perianesthesia nurse commonly work as a team in the operating room to ensure the patient’s safety during the procedure.

Perianesthesia care usually continues in the recovery room, with a trained nurse checking the patient for any adverse reaction to drugs used during surgery. He or she monitors vital signs and intravenous lines as the patient wakes. Most patients regain consciousness slowly and without serious side effects, but some react differently.


Some patients wake up in an excited state after surgery. The nurse assigned to the case commonly calms the patient and watches for other negative reactions to the anesthesia. If the patient suffers from nausea or vomiting, the nurse helps the patient and reports the reaction to the rest of the team. The nurse also deals with any pain the patient suffers as he or she regains consciousness.

Nurses in this specialty typically care for the patient until he or she is discharged and returns home, goes into a rehabilitation facility, or is transferred to a regular ward in the hospital. A care plan is typically devised with the surgeon and anesthesiologist before surgery. Any complications during recovery are usually shared among the team.

Perianesthesia nurses work in hospitals, surgery clinics, and dental offices. In most areas, they need a certain number of hours working in the field before they become eligible for certification. Tests are commonly administered before certification, but training and testing requirements vary by region. Different requirements might also exist, depending on where the nurse plans to work. Some areas mandate additional experience or training for certification in a cardiac unit.



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