Anaesthesia has become safe and reliable in the vast majority of cases. Operations can be performed safely which were unimaginable only 50 years ago. Great strides have been made in producing drugs with more rapid effect, less hangover and fewer side effects. Electronic monitoring now enables monitoring of a wide range of parameters such that the risk of anaesthesia is now 17 times less than only 25 years ago. For a simple procedure the risk of death is 1:400,000, comparable with air travel.
Risks increase with the extent of surgery, with decreasing patient fitness and the effects of aging or disease. For each patient and procedure the risks will vary and your anaesthetist will assess these and aim to minimise them in order to provide you with the best possible care and experience.
There are some simple things you can do to help.
- Provide all your medical information to your anaesthetist - complete your assessment form
- Ensure that you are in the best possible health at the time of your anaesthetic.
- Avoid anaesthesia when suffering from colds and flu.
- Stop smoking. The longer you can give up for, the lower the risk. If you cannot stop completely, then cutting down will help. This will reduce the carbon monoxide in your blood and improve your lung's ability to remove particles thus lowering the risk of chest infection.
- Avoid certain drugs (see medicines section).