The Side Effects and Risks of Anesthesia

All operations and all anesthesia have some risks, and they are dependent upon many factors including the type of surgery and the medical condition of the patient. Fortunately, adverse events are very rare.

Your anesthesiologist takes precautions to prevent an accident from occurring, just as you do when driving a car or crossing the street. The specific risks of anesthesia vary with the particular procedure and the condition of the patient. Some of the medical conditions which may increase the risks of surgery and anesthesia are obesity, sleep apnea, history of tobacco or drug use, diabetes, high blood pressure, emphysema, heart disease or history of problems with anesthesia in the past.

If you smoke, physician anesthesiologists recommend that you quit. Quitting at least one week before a scheduled surgery is recommended. Patients who smoke have increased risk of wound infections, pneumonia, breathing and heart problems during and after surgery.

If you are over weight or obese, it may be more difficult to place IV’s and breathing tubes. Patients who are obese are at increase risks of wound infections, pneumonia, breathing and heart problems during and after surgery. Weight loss before surgery will reduce your risks associated with anesthesia and your surgical procedure.

Some of the side effects and risks of general anesthesia include nausea, vomiting, sore throat, hoarseness, muscle aches, shivering, and confusion. Major risks of heart or lung problems, awareness, drug reaction, strokes and death are usually very low.

Some of the risks of regional anesthesia may include headache, infection, bleeding, nerve damage, failed block and drug reaction. These risks are also usually very low.

You should ask your anesthesiologist about any risks that may be associated with your anesthesia.