What are the risks and complications of general anesthesia?


General anaesthesia is used to sedate the patient, using either intravenous medications or gaseous substances, and occasionally muscles paralysed, requiring control of breathing by mechanical ventilation. The practice of anaesthesia is fundamental to the practice of medicine. However, anaesthesia is not without its problems. However, the risks of anesthesia have become relatively low and most of the experts say anesthesia is one of the safest areas of health care today.

Experts say that some of the factors that can increase your risk of complications include: smoking; obstructive sleep apnea; obesity; high blood pressure; diabetes; other medical conditions involving your heart, lungs or kidneys; medications, such as aspirin, that can increase bleeding; history of heavy alcohol use; drug allergies; history of adverse reactions to anesthesia.

According to Patient.co.uk, some of the important complications of general anesthesia include:
(1) Pain
(2) Nausea and vomiting - up to 30% of patients
(3) Damage to teeth - 1 in 4,500 cases
(4) Sore throat and laryngeal damage
(5) Anaphylaxis to anaesthetic agents - figures such as 0.2% have been quoted
(6) Cardiovascular collapse
(7) Respiratory depression
(8) Aspiration pneumonitis - up to 4.5% frequency has been reported; higher in children
(9) Hypothermia
(10) Hypoxic brain damage
(11) Nerve injury - 0.4% in general anaesthesia and 0.1% in regional anaesthesia
(12) Embolism - air, thrombus, venous or arterial
(13) Backache
(14) Headache.
(15) Idiosyncratic reactions related to specific agents - eg, malignant hyperpyrexia with suxamethonium, succinylcholine-related apnoea.
(16) Iatrogenic - eg, pneumothorax related to central line insertion
(17) Death

Most healthy people don't have any problems with general anesthesia. Although many people may have mild, temporary symptoms, general anesthesia itself is exceptionally safe, even for the sickest patients.

The risk of long-term complications, much less death, is very small. In general, the risk of complications is more closely related to the type of procedure you're undergoing, and your general physical health, than to the anesthesia itself....

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