General anesthesia: what it consists of and what are its risks

General anesthesia is a medical procedure that is used at the same time as surgery. It can also be said that it facilitates the execution of the surgery. Because of this, a combination of drugs is used to induce unconsciousnesssimilar to sleep.

This state is induced before surgery, is maintained throughout the operation, and lasts a little longer than the procedure. In particular, it has several objectives; one of them is to avoid the patient suffering from pain during the operation. On the other hand, it is intended to facilitate the surgeon’s work. For this, muscle relaxation and control of breathing and vital signs are produced.

Its mode of application is intravenously or, sometimes, with the combination of inhaled anesthetic gases. When it is necessary? What risks does it involve? As for its use, there are several doubts. Therefore, we will tell you more about it below.

Why is general anesthesia performed?

Before the operation, the anesthetist, in collaboration with the surgeon, will advise the best anesthesia option. This choice will depend on the type of surgery to be performed and the general state of health of the patient.

In some cases, other techniques, including sedation, other than general anesthesia may be used. However, the latter is required for certain procedures, such as those with the following characteristics:

  • They last several hours.
  • Without anesthesia they would be too painful.
  • They can produce anxiety or psychological impact.
  • There may be considerable blood loss.
  • The cold of the operating room can affect the patient.
  • They require breathing control (surgery of the chest or upper abdomen).

Factors to consider before general anesthesia

The anesthetist is the doctor in charge of evaluating the patient. This is to find out if the health history or the treatments a person receives could interfere with general anesthesia.

To do this, the practitioner asks a series of questions, beyond the health problem that is motivating the intervention. It is very important to discuss medical history and family history without omitting the following health details:

  • Treatments or medications taken regularly. Includes consumption of vitamin supplements or medicinal plants.
  • Previous surgeries.
  • blood transfusions.
  • Known allergies to food, medications, products such as latex, among others.
  • Consumption of tobacco, alcoholic beverages or drugs.
  • Recent infections, especially of the respiratory tract.
  • Probability of being pregnant.

This information will help the anesthesiologist choose the anesthetics which are safer for you.

Factors to consider before general anesthesia
Before opting to use general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist reviews your medical and family history. Also, ask a variety of questions.

Risks and side effects of general anesthesia

In most cases, general anesthesia is considered safe. However, there are some risks among the elderly and people with serious medical problems or requiring invasive medical procedures. However, the risks are more likely to come from the surgery itself, rather than the anesthesia.

After the surgery, it is normal to feel general discomfort or pain. Therefore, it is necessary to determine whether a particular symptom is due to the operation or the anesthesia. Once the surgical procedure is completed, symptoms may be as follows:

  • Nausea and vomit.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Sore throat (caused by placing a tube in the windpipe for breathing).
  • Chills and hypothermia (feeling cold).
  • Confusion or disorientation.

These side effects are usually not serious and can be managed in the recovery room. Most are transient and resolve within a short time.

How to prepare for a general anesthesia?

First of all, the surgeon usually talks with the patient to explain the procedure. Alike, the anesthesiologist will clarify all related doubts. This part is considered relevant, as it reduces the anxiety generated by the intervention. Next, we detail the most important points of the process.


Try to follow all the doctors’ instructions, especially the fasting time they have indicated. In some cases it is possible to moisten the mouth with water, but it is extremely important to arrive in the operating room fasting.

Your doctor will tell you when you should stop some of the medicines you take. For example, Aspirin should be stopped one week before the procedure. This indication also applies to vitamin supplements and herbal medicine.


From a few minutes before the start of the operation, the anesthetist will take care of the anesthesia and your vital signs. Most often sedation is initiated through an IV placed in the arm or wrist. He or she may also apply an anesthetic gas to you through a face mask.

Today, the general anesthesia process is considered by most anesthetists to be a safe event. During surgery, the anesthetist is primarily concerned with the patient’s safety.

How to prepare for a general anesthesia?
Currently, the application of general anesthesia is considered safe for most people.


At the end of the surgery, the anesthesiologist applies drugs to reverse the anesthesia. This is with the intention of the patient waking up slowly, usually in the recovery room. It’s normal to feel a little lightheaded and confused when you open your eyes. The person is also likely to feel dry mouth and want to sleep.

Upon awakening from anesthesia, and depending on the type of surgery, you may experience pain or other symptoms. If so, you should report it to recovery room staff in order to receive the appropriate treatment to alleviate it.

What to remember about general anesthesia?

It’s normal to feel anxious before surgery that involves general anesthesia. However, keep in mind that it is currently considered safe in almost all cases. Medicines, equipment and safety standards make it possible.

Therefore, Most people have no complications during or after receiving this type of anesthesia. Conversely, their quality of life improves after the surgery.

The post General Anesthesia: what it consists of and what are its risks appeared first in research-school.



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