Geriatric Anesthesia | MedStar Health
Health professional checking patient

As you grow older, you may be more likely to experience medical problems that come with aging. Our anesthesia providers are experts in providing safe anesthesia care for elderly patients undergoing a medical or surgical procedure.

Geriatric anesthesia ensures aging adults over the age of 65 receive anesthesia care to keep them comfortable during surgery. While risks are associated with factors such as your medical condition or type of surgery, age can make it difficult to predict how your body will respond to surgical stress.

Common age-related conditions, such as increased blood pressure or heart disease, may increase the likelihood of complications during or after surgery. That’s why our anesthesia providers are skilled in taking various precautions and safety measures to ensure a safe outcome at any age.

Our geriatric anesthesia providers

Our anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are experts in using anesthesia to manage pain and reduce surgical stress in geriatric patients. We have special training in administering anesthesia to elderly patients, who may be at increased risk for complications as a result of urgency of surgery, coexisting diseases, and aging organs.

Our providers work as a team with other specialists and surgeons so you can expect:

  • Highly trained anesthesia specialists

  • One-on-one focused attention

  • State-of-the-art surgical equipment

  • Advanced monitoring techniques

What to expect

Anesthesia for geriatric patients can be different from general anesthesia because the procedures can add stress to aging organs. That’s why our care team thoroughly reviews your medical history, nutritional status, and diagnostic tests before creating an anesthesia plan unique to your needs. Then, your anesthesia providers will give you specialized instructions related to food, drink, and medication prior to your scheduled appointment.

You may want to bring a close friend or family member to your pre-anesthesia testing appointment so they can help you follow instructions when preparing for surgery.

After arriving for your procedure, your anesthesiologist or CRNA will meet with you and your doctor in the preoperative area to discuss your anesthetic plan. We encourage you to ask questions so you feel calm and prepared going into your procedure.

Learn more about the day of procedure

Your anesthesia team will then use a personalized approach to manage your anesthetic and reduce your risk for complications, taking into consideration your age, medical condition(s), and procedure. Depending on your procedure, your anesthesia team may use one or a combination of the following types of anesthesia:

  • General anesthesia – Results in a loss of consciousness and sensation.

  • Moderate or deep sedation – An injection into a vein or muscle to reduce anxiety and decrease pain.

  • Regional anesthesia – An injection of local anesthetic provides numbness, loss of pain, or loss of sensation to a large area of the body. This type includes techniques such as spinal anesthesia, epidural anesthesia, and arm and leg nerve blocks.

  • Local – An injection under the skin that results in numbness to a small area of the body.

During the procedure, your anesthesia team will use state-of-the-art monitoring techniques to ensure your safety and comfort. After your procedure, you will be transferred to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), where specialized nurses will give you postoperative instructions to enhance your recovery. As a geriatric patient, your care team will closely monitor:

  • Acute pain levels

  • Body temperature

  • Changes in breathing

  • Fluid intake

Your recovery will vary based on your procedure and the type of anesthesia you received, but for all uses of anesthesia, we strive to use:

  • A best-practice protocol to minimize nausea and vomiting

  • Various modes of pain relief, using non-opioid pain medications when possible

Learn more about recovery and going home

Questions to ask your anesthesia team

Our anesthesia providers will help you understand safe and effective methods for minimizing your pain and helping you recover quickly and safely. To ease your mind as you prepare for anesthesia, you may want to ask your anesthesia team the following questions:

  1. What kind of anesthesia will I need?

  2. What medications should I continue taking or stop taking before surgery?

  3. Am I at risk for any adverse effects from the anesthesia?

  4. How will my pain be managed as I recover?

Our providers

close up view of a man’s arm while having anesthesia at hospital

Expert anesthesiology care

Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our anesthesiologists.

Our locations

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MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital

3001 S. Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

MedStar St Mary's Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010