Having surgery can be a frightening experience for many people. Fortunately, modern medicine has come a long way and the risk of complications is lower than ever before. This is not to say that there are no risks. No surgery is risk-free, but understanding the possible outcomes can help individuals make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones. Please read more about the potential complications that can occur below.
Complications that can occur during/after surgery
• Anesthesia Complications – General anesthesia is very safe for most people. Even individuals with serious health conditions can usually undergo general anesthesia without any serious problems. Many people will experience grogginess or confusion when first waking up. Other symptoms after anesthesia include nausea, headache, dizziness, sore throat, tiredness, shivering, dry mouth, vomiting or mild hoarseness. These should all go away in a short period of time. However, severe reactions, through rare, can include stroke, heart attack, brain damage and death.
• Hemorrhage – Hemorrhage means bleeding. If the patient loses too much blood from the site of surgery it can lead to shock. Treatment for hemorrhage includes IV fluids, blood plasma or blood transfusion or further surgery to stop the bleeding.
• DVT/Blood Clots – During post-op many surgeries have an increased risk of developing a blood clot in the veins of the calf. This is called deep venous thrombosis (DVT). This happens because the body naturally increases its clotting cascade in an attempt to stop the bleeding from surgery. DVTs can cause lung problems including collapsed lungs therefore surgeons will take every step possible to prevent them. Anti-coagulating medications are sometimes prescribed, and patients are encouraged to get up and walk as soon as possible after surgery. Always be sure to follow all post-operative instructions carefully.
• Post-Operative Lung Infections – It is important to exercise the lungs after undergoing any surgery that uses anesthesia. Lying down for an extended period and some medications taken for surgery can cause an individual to not breathe deeply. When lungs are not working at their full potential it can lead to poor oxygen levels which increases the risk of developing pneumonia.
• Wound Infections – Infections can occur when bacteria enter the body at the site of surgery. They can delay healing and spread to nearby organs and tissue. Wound infections are usually treated with a round of antibiotics. In more serious cases a procedure or surgery may be necessary to clean or drain the infected area
The following conditions can increase the risk of complications during surgery:
• Heart disease – the stresses of surgery put extra strain on the muscles of the heart to maintain cardiac output. Additionally, the agents in anesthesia can depress cardiac function.
• Hypertension – increases the risk of stroke or respiratory complications with anesthesia.
• High blood pressure – increases the risk of stroke after surgery.
• Stroke – People who have a history of stroke are more likely to have an additional stroke after surgery. They also have an eight-fold risk increase of mortality within 30 days after surgery.
• Bleeding disorders – Bleeding disorders such as hemophilia increase the risk of hemorrhaging before, during and post-surgery.
• Obesity – Obesity increases the risks of wound infections, more surgical blood loss and a longer operation time.
• COPD, asthma or other lung conditions – Agents found in anesthesia can sometimes decrease respiratory functions, increasing the risk of severe hypoventilation.
• Kidney problems – increase the risk of stroke after surgery.
• Diabetes – can increase the susceptibility to infection and when there is an associated circulatory impairment, wound healing is impaired.
• Obstructive sleep apnea – Anesthesia has been shown to increase the upper airway collapsibility in individuals with obstructive sleep apnea.
• Smoking – Smoking increases the risks of complications from anesthesia.
• Abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs – Addiction to alcohol and/or drugs can cause an unpredictable reaction when under anesthesia.
The Surgical Services team at OakBend Medical Center is committed to ensuring a safe and pleasant experience for adults and children requiring inpatient or outpatient surgical procedures. They are proud to provide you with the best and most individualized patient care available. By aligning surgeons and clinical teams who practice in key specialists, patients experience more efficient processes and better outcomes. If you would like more information or to make an appointment please call 281-341-3000 today.