Risks and Complications
Australia is one of the safest places in the world to be anaesthetised. Despite this, some patients have an increased risk of complications due to their health status (e.g. heart or respiratory disease, diabetes, obesity, age) and/or type of surgery they are undergoing.
Side effects of anaesthesia include:
- feeling drowsy
- sore throat
- low blood pressure
- mild nausea
These are relatively common but temporary and usually pass quickly.
Complications may also arise but are infrequent. These include:
- damage to teeth, dental prostheses, dentures, caps, crowns, bridges and plates
- hoarse voice
- bruising at the injection site
- temporary breathing difficulties such as asthma
- muscle pains
- lip and tongue injury
- allergic or sensitive reactions
Some serious complications which may arise but are even more remote include:
- eye injury
- heart attack
- liver or kidney failure
- lung damage such as pneumonia
- damage to the larynx (voice box) and vocal cords
- infection from blood transfusion (see below for more information)
- permanent nerve damage (including paraplegia) or blood vessel damage
If you have any concerns regarding the above, please talk to your anaesthetist.
With modern surgery the requirements for blood transfusion are less common. All blood collected today from donors is carefully screened and tested but a very small risk of cross infection still remains. Your anaesthetist is aware of these risks and only uses blood transfusions when absolutely necessary. For a major surgery, your anaesthetist may supervise a system of collecting your blood during or after your operation, processing it and returning it to you. This is called blood salvage and sometimes this can avoid the need for a transfusion.
For patients who object blood transfusion (eg. for religious reasons), you must let the anaesthetist know prior to your surgery.