Anesthesia was first administered on Oct 16, 1846, by an American dentist. This discovery brought huge relief to patients who had to undergo a surgery. Today, from simple to complicated surgeries make use of anesthesia to make the procedure pain-free for patients. Most of the time, the patient does not remember anything that about the surgery, but there have been rare incidents where a patient has woken up during the surgery. Here is what you need to know about waking up to anesthesia (also known as anesthetic awareness)-
1. It is a rare occurrence
ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists) reports that once or twice per 1000 general anesthesia cases. And it is seen that this phenomenon occurs in procedures where mild anesthesia is required.
2. It is a subtle awareness
Patients recollect short and fuzzy memories of conversations that happened during the surgery. Some have said to have felt pressure and movement but nobody has felt any pain.
3. It could be a false alarm
Sometimes patients dream during a surgery and mistake it for anesthetic awareness. This could include dreaming about deceased relatives or friends.
4. Some surgeries increase the probability of anesthetic awareness
Certain major surgical procedures like a cardiac surgery, C-section, or trauma surgery can increase the risk of anesthetic awareness. During these types of procedures, anesthesia is administered in lower doses to prevent the patient’s condition from deteriorating.
5. Your doctor knows it best
Doctors are aware of this condition and will make all the necessary arrangements to ensure that you stay comfortable. If you have had previous episodes of anesthetic awareness you need to disclose it to the doctor.
6. Medications mess with anesthesia
Several medications including the herbal ones react with anesthesia and sometimes it might counteract the anesthetic effects. If you have any other medical conditions or take recreational drugs and alcohol, you need to be upfront about these too.
7. It doesn’t occur during the middle of the surgery
Movies have shown how patients wake up in the middle of the surgery, but this is not true. People wake up when the anesthesia starts to wear off, which is bound to happen towards the end of the surgery.
8. It can cause anxiety and panic attacks
There have been reports of patients experiencing loneliness, fear, anxiety and panic attacks after anesthetic awareness. During such cases, counseling works best in improving the mental and emotional state of the patient.
9. Equipment malfunction is the common cause
General anesthesia is administered through an IV or as a gas through a mask. Before the surgery, the anesthesiologist checks the equipment, but it can malfunction even an hour before it is used. During such cases, the doctor may not be able to deliver the right dose.
10. Anesthetic awareness prevention
Anesthesia is given after monitoring the vitals of the patients. The monitoring devices help the doctor in ensuring the patient stays unconscious throughout the procedure. Brain monitors help in reading the depth of consciousness. The accuracy of these readings, determine the success of anesthesia.