We understand that you may be apprehensive about having an anaesthetic.  This is normal, most people experience some degree of anxiety before an operation and anaesthetic.  First and foremost, be reassured, anaesthesia in Australia is among the safest in the world.

Despite this there is always some risk and some complications, mostly minor, that can occur:

Sore Throat

A sore throat is one of the most common minor adverse effects.  During most anaesthetics we will be inserting a breathing mask or a breathing tube to help you breathe while you are asleep.  This can often give you a sore throat for a day or so after the anaesthetic.

Bruising

For virtually every anaesthetic you will need to have an intravenous drip inserted.  Even when this goes smoothly it may result in some bruising that may be uncomfortable for a day or two.  If you have difficult veins this is more likely to happen.

Damage to Teeth

While you are asleep we often have to put a breathing tube or breathing mask in your mouth.  There is always a risk when we do this that we may damage your teeth, chip, or break teeth.  We take every precaution to avoid this but sometimes damage does occur.  Crowns, caps, veneers, onlays and other dental restoration work is always more vulnerable than healthy teeth, and teeth in poor condition or loose are also at more at risk.  For our younger patients if a baby tooth gets knocked out we try and return it so it can be sent to the Tooth Fairy!

Nausea and Vomiting

This is a very common side effect of many different drugs used in a general anaesthetic.  We prefer to use intravenous drips of anaesthetic medication to put you to sleep (or not put you to sleep at all, and use a local block, spinal or epidural anaesthetic).  We will order you a combination of anti vomiting drugs to try and control this unpleasant side effect.

Nerve Damage

We do many of our procedures under nerve blocks, spinal, or epidural anaesthetics.  Sometimes this is combined with either sedation or a general anaesthetic.  Despite using modern techniques such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation to guide the needles used to perform these procedures it is sometimes possible (about 1 in every 500 procedures) to bruise the nerve(s).   This can leave you with a spot that feels funny, numb, tingling, or something similar.  This usually fades away over time, taking anywhere between 6 days and 6 months to do so.  Very rarely (about 1 in 5000) it never goes away completely.

Pain

We do everything possible to control any post-operative pain you may experience.  We make extensive use of local anaesthetic blocks, as well as a combination of medications to try and control your pain.  

Awareness

Many people are frightened of remembering some portion of their procedure.  Studies show that about 1 in every 2,000 general anaesthetics, although in most cases these are usually only hazy memories.  It is much rarer to be completely awake and feeling pain.  If you have suffered such an experience in the past please let us know during the pre-operative consultation.  There are a range of things we can do, including special brain wave monitoring, to try and reduce the likelihood of this happening.

If you are having your procedure under we cannot guarantee you will have no memories of the procedure. We remain with you throughout the procedure and ensure you are comfortable throughout. Most people will have very little or no recall of the procedure at all, but you may remember hearing voices, people moving. It is also quite common and quite normal to feel moving and touching when having a procedure under a local block, spinal or epidural, but you should not feel pain.

Allergy and Anaphylaxis

Side effects of medications (such as becoming nauseated or vomiting after strong pain relievers like morphine, codiene, or oxycodone) are not allergies and can usually be controlled, allowing us to use these drugs.  If you have experienced problems such as severe rash and itchiness, swelling, or difficulty breathing after an anaesthetic please let us know.  An allergic reaction, particularly anaphylaxis are rare, but can be very serious.