Complications of General Anaesthesia

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Chapter: Essential pharmacology : General Anaesthetics

Salivation, respiratory secretions—less now as nonirritant anaesthetics are mostly used.



A) During Anaesthesia


1.   Respiratory depression and hypercarbia.

2.   Salivation, respiratory secretions—less now as nonirritant anaesthetics are mostly used.

3.   Cardiac arrhythmias, asystole.

4.   Fall in BP

5.   Aspiration of gastric contents: acid pneumonitis.

6.   Laryngospasm and asphyxia.

7.   Awareness: dreadful perception and recall of events during surgery—by use of light anaesthesia + analgesics and muscle relaxants.

8. Delirium, convulsions and other excitatory effects are generally seen with i.v. anaesthetics—especially if phenothiazines or hyoscine have been given in premedication.These are suppressed by opioids.

9. Fire and explosion—rare now due to use of noninflammable agents.


B) After Anaesthesia


1.   Nausea and vomiting.

2.   Persisting sedation: impaired psychomotor function.

3.   Pneumonia, atelectasis.

4.   Organ toxicities: liver, kidney damage.

5.   Nerve palsies—due to faulty positioning.

6.   Emergence delirium.

7.   Cognitive defects: prolonged excess cognitive decline has been observed in some patients, especially the elderly, who have undergone general anaesthesia, particularly of long duration.


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