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General Anesthesia

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Risks and complications from general anesthesia continued...

After surgery using general anesthesia, a common side effect is nausea and vomiting. Most of the time, this can be treated and doesn't last long. Also, some people have a sore throat or hoarseness from the breathing tube inserted after the person is unconscious. Inserting the breathing tube can sometimes cause damage to a person's mouth or teeth, but this is uncommon.

Rare but serious risks of general anesthesia include:

  • Heart attack, heart failure, or stroke.
  • Increases or decreases in blood pressure.
  • Pneumonia or other breathing disorders.
  • Difficulty placing a breathing tube.
  • Reactions to medicines used in the anesthesia.
  • Muscle damage and a rapid increase in body temperature.
  • Death.

Some people who are going to have general anesthesia express concern that they will not be completely unconscious but will "wake up" and have some awareness during the surgical procedure. But awareness during general anesthesia is very rare. Anesthesia specialists devote careful attention and use many methods to prevent this.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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