Risks Involved with Anesthesia:
All operations and anesthesia involve some degree of risk. The nature of your operation and your overall pre-operative condition are important factors that are considered when estimating the risks for your particular operative experience.
The most common complication is nausea and vomiting. This occurs more frequently in children, those susceptible to motion sickness and those who have had such previous experiences with anesthesia. If you are diabetic, obese, or pregnant you may be more prone to becoming ill.
Inhaling stomach contents into the lungs is a more serious complication. It is important not to eat or drink anything prior to your surgery. You may be given a preoperative medication to reduce the amount of your stomach’s contents. Finally, a breathing tube may be inserted during anesthetic induction to prevent these contents from spilling over into your lungs.
Other complications include, but are not limited to, low blood pressure, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, heart attack, allergic reactions, cardiac arrest, airway blockage, lack of oxygen, physical injury (such as chipped teeth, loss of teeth), muscle cramps, and death. When a pressure tourniquet is used on an operated limb, skin nerve and muscle (that are all necessarily compressed) are all potential sites of injury. Minor complications such as sore throat, headache, hoarseness, drowsiness, muscle aches, and fatigue are common during the first several days following surgery.
Regional anesthesia, involving the use of local anesthetics that produce a loss of sensation in a limited area, can produce systemic reactions that can cause dizziness, ringing in the ears, “a funny feeling”, loss of consciousness, seizures, and cardiac arrest. During major blocks, the blood vessels may relax and cause low blood pressure. Infections at the site of the injections can range from inconsequential to life threatening. Epidural, spinal and caudal blocks may also be associated with headaches that may last for several days that require special treatment and difficulty emptying the bladder.
Fortunately, the incidence of these and other potentially serious adverse events following either general or regional anesthesia is relatively remote.