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    Mayo Clinic Minute: What you need to know about anesthesia

The first successful surgical procedure using ether anesthesia was performed on Oct. 16, 1846. It's considered to be one of the most significant events in the history of medicine. Anesthesia has come a long way since then. Each year, millions of Americans safely undergo surgery under anesthesia. In this Mayo Clinic Minute, anesthesiologist Dr. Alberto Ardon explains the roles doctors and patients play in reducing risks during and after surgery.

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There's a lot that goes into ensuring someone is ready to safely undergo surgery with anesthesia and it starts long before he or she is brought into the operating room.

"Patients should definitely be honest about their medical history when preparing for surgery," explains Dr. Ardon.

Dr. Ardon says that while anesthesia is generally safe, there still can be inherent risks, which is why patients should be proactive with their medical care.

"Follow whatever recommendations the surgeon lays out. Sometimes that can involve taking certain medications in preparation. Sometimes that can involve going to physical therapy," says Dr. Ardon.

Then there's the rule regarding no food before surgery, which Dr. Ardon says should not be taken lightly.

"It's important not to eat anything eight hours prior to your scheduled procedure because there is an inherent risk of having any of those food contents accidentally come up into the throat and thereafter go into the lung area," says Dr. Ardon.

There are some occasions where Dr. Ardon says they could delay or even cancel procedures if a patient doesn't follow that rule.