For a long time, general anesthetics were feared due to many unpleasant side effects and were considered dangerous. Nowadays, due to state-of-the-art technology and state-of-the-art medicines, this is only true in exceptional cases.

What is a general anesthetic?

Under general anesthesia, the patient is put into a kind of coma by so-called hypnotics. This happens through the administration of drugs that "turn off" the consciousness.

Under general anesthesia, the patient is put into a kind of coma by so-called hypnotics. This happens through the administration of drugs that "turn off" the consciousness.

To guarantee painlessness throughout the body, analgesics, so strong analgesics, are given. In addition, relaxants are also administered which provide relaxation of the muscles. The drugs can be administered intravenously, ie with the help of an infusion tube, or with the breath. In less than a minute, the patient falls asleep.

Its vital signs and depth of anesthesia are controlled by the treating anesthetist throughout the procedure. The difference between general anesthesia and sedation is that the patient is not amenable to general anesthesia and that the impairment of the circulation and respiratory function is greater.

In contrast to general anesthesia, the patient is conscious in local anesthesia, only one area of ​​the body is made painless.

Function, effect & goals

General anesthesia is used in many different operations. It has the advantage that the patients are not conscious during the procedure, so they do not experience the events in the operating room.

In addition, the patient feels no pain and the relaxants can be ensured that the patient does not move during the operation or there is involuntary muscle twitching. Especially larger operations can only be performed under general anesthesia. The narcosis is started with the administration of the analgesics and hypnotics and is maintained throughout the course of the operation by the necessary medicines are continuously supplied.

The administered mix of anesthetics ensures a coma-like state, for freedom from pain, for an inhibition of the autonomic nervous system and for a relaxation of the muscles. The exact course of general anesthesia may differ from patient to patient, but there is a general procedure that is almost always maintained. If the patient falls asleep, he is placed a breathing tube. This tube, on the one hand, conducts air to the lungs, but may also contain anesthetic gas, which serves to maintain anesthesia until the end of the operation.

For operations that take only a very short time, it is sometimes sufficient to only ventilate the patient with a mask. As surgeons perform the procedure, the anesthesiologist monitors the patient's circulatory situation and depth of anesthesia; If necessary, he can administer other drugs or change the dose. When the operation is over, the anesthesiologist discontinues the narcosis medication and the tube is removed. After stopping the anesthetics, it takes several minutes for the patient to regain full consciousness, during which time he is monitored in the recovery room.

Risks & Dangers

Although general anesthetics are feared and considered dangerous by many people, they are very safe. Only in extreme cases, there are life-threatening conditions of the patient due to anesthesia. Thanks to the latest medicines, technical aids for patient monitoring and the constant presence of a team of anesthetized doctors and nurses during the operation, general anesthesia is very safe.

However, the individual risk is not only dependent on the anesthesia itself but also on the type and duration of the operation and the general state of health of the patient. Potential complications include cardiovascular problems, problems with respiration or damage to teeth or mucosal tissue due to intubation, and also allergic reactions to drugs administered.

Another risk is the transfer of stomach contents into the lungs, which can lead to severe pneumonia; therefore, it is important to stop eating for at least six hours before surgery and not to take any fluids for at least two hours before surgery. Only a few decades ago, severe nausea and vomiting were among the most common side effects after waking from general anesthesia.

Nowadays, those mood disorders that include flu-like symptoms such as hoarseness and sore throat have become much less common after surgery and are more of an exception than a rule.

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