The anesthesia provider, typically an anesthesiologist or a nurse anesthetist, will begin the surgery by giving a sedative by IV to relax the patient. Once the patient is relaxed, a breathing tube, or endotracheal tube, is threaded through the mouth and into the windpipe before being connected to the ventilator.
The breathing tube is necessary because general anesthesia causes paralysis in addition to rendering the patient unconscious. While paralyzed, the patient cannot breathe without assistance and depends upon the ventilator to supply air to the lungs.
Once the anesthesia has taken full effect, the surgeon can begin making the incision, without the patient feeling pain or waking. During the surgery, the patient will be closely monitored by the anesthesiologist, with the vital signs being observed throughout the surgery and medications given as needed.