Why anesthesia is safe

Why anesthesia is safe?

To answer this question, we must remember that there are three main types of anesthetic care that enable the execution of diagnostic procedures (for example, a digestive endoscopy) or surgery. 

The monitored anesthesia care mean that the anesthesiologist is present throughout the procedure, carefully administering analgesic and / or sedative medication, allowing the procedure to be performed without anxiety or discomfort. During a superficial or moderate sedation, the patient will be able to speak and communicate discomfort to the anesthesiologist while during deep sedation, the patient will be sleeping soundly without communicating. Whatever the required sedation level, the anesthesiologist monitors the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and level of consciousness during and after the procedure. 

Regional anesthesia involves the administration of anesthetic medication along nerves so that only part of the body is numbed. For example, spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia are methods of blocking sensitivity in the lower half of the body while the peripheral nerve blocks are used in smaller areas such as the forearm or hand. During regional anesthesia, the patient may be awake or receive sedation so as to be relaxed during surgery. Sometimes this type of technique is combined with general anesthesia to prevent or treat postoperative pain. 

General anesthesia involves unconsciousness (the patient will not remember the intraoperative events), analgesia (not feel pain) and reduction of voluntary and involuntary movements (to permit surgery), which is obtained through the administration of various drugs that can be administered through the venous system or given to the patient via the equipment itself, through the respiratory tract. Once again, all the body's vital functions such as breathing, blood pressure heartbeat or brain activity are monitored and controlled by the anesthesiologist. 

It's safe anesthesia? The idea to be anesthetized, especially under general anesthesia, causes concern in many patients who often have more concern over general anesthesia than the surgery itself. The truth is that nowadays any form of anesthesia is extremely safe: 
  • anesthesiologists monitor the volume of air that enters and leaves the lungs, and the amount of oxygen that is supplied;
  • anesthesiologists watch the functioning of the heart, blood flow, measuring the heart rate, blood pressure and, in some circumstances, assessing the own contractile force of the heart and flow of blood to exit and enter the 4 cardiac chambers .
  • anesthesiologists guard and replace the volume of fluid lost during surgery such as blood and urine, keeping the normal composition of various body fluids.
  • anesthesiologists also look to the level of consciousness of the patient by observation of their clinical signs either through the use of monitors that record the brain's electrical activity.

There is always a risk of complications that depend on the patient, the surgery itself and extremely rarely from technical failures or human error. Complications from anesthesia have decreased significantly over the past 50 years. The number of perioperative death attributed to anesthesia was 1 in 1500 30 years ago, while today it is less than 1 to 200,000, despite an aging and sicker population undergoing surgery of greater complexity.