General Anaesthesia is used to provide a deep state of unconsciousness, and lack of bodily reaction to surgery.
The anaesthetic medication is given through an intravenous drip, or by mask inhalation, and often a combination of both. During this state of controlled unconsciousness, your anaesthetist is continually monitoring your status with the help of specialist equipment. At the completion of your surgery the anaesthetic is stopped and you will regain consciousness.
- Nausea and vomiting: Includes both the feeling of being sick as well as actually vomiting. Due to newer techniques and medications the incidence has decreased.
- Damage to teeth: General anaesthesia involves the anaesthetist inserting a breathing tube which can cause damage to teeth (occurs less than 1 in 4,500 general anaesthetics). If you have false teeth, please wear them to hospital. Your anaesthetist will decide whether it is best to either leave them in or remove them.
- Sore throat: This can be due to the presence of the breathing tube or just as a result of breathing in anaesthetic gases. It usually settles in 1-2 days.
- Bruising at the site of the intravenous injections and nerve blocks usually settles quickly.
- Regurgitation and aspiration is where the stomach contents are brought back up in to the back of the throat and then inhaled into the lungs during a general anaesthetic (1 in 3,000). It can very rarely cause a life threatening lung infection. Therefore, it is very important to adequately fast prior to an anaesthetic.
- Awareness: Very occasionally a patient can become conscious during the operation and remember things that happened during this time. This is very rare (1 in 14,000 general anaesthetics). Awareness is due to the patient receiving too little anaesthetic however with advances in monitoring and equipment the chance of this occurring is becoming even more unlikely.
- Allergy: It is possible to have an allergic reaction without prior history of allergies to anaesthetic. Some people may be allergic to particular medications used during anaesthesia, the skin preparations or to latex (rubber) that is present in the operating theatre. It is important that you advise your anaesthetist of any known allergies to medications or rubber products.
- Nerve Damage: causing loss of feeling or movement in parts of the body is very uncommon as a result of anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist takes great care in positioning you during surgery and constantly monitors and maintains your blood pressure to try and minimise this occurring.
- Death and brain damage: Death related to anaesthesia is extremely rare.