Munson Health
General Anesthesia

Back to Document

by Kellicker P

(Anesthesia, General)


Possible Complications

Every precaution is used to prevent complications. Often, medications are given in advance to prevent certain problems, such as nausea and vomiting. Even so, complications may occur and include:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

What to Expect

Description of the Procedure

General anesthesia is broken down into three phases:
  • Induction phase—Medications will be given that result in the loss of consciousness. These will be given through an IV or through gas into the lungs. A breathing tube will be placed down your windpipe. This will be attached to a machine that helps you continue to breathe normally.
  • Middle or maintenance phase—Medications will be given based on your responses. These may keep you asleep or regulate your body functions.
  • Recovery or emergence phase—This will slowly reverse the anesthesia. The medications given will allow you to wake up. When you are starting to awaken and are breathing on your own, the breathing tube will be removed.
Endotracheal Intubation
Nucleus image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Immediately After Procedure

As you wake up, you will be closely monitored. Any pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

How Long Will It Take?

This procedure takes as long as needed, depending on the surgery.

How Much Will It Hurt?

General anesthesia numbs all pain. Since you are asleep, your brain will not sense any pain signals.

Average Hospital Stay

How long you spend in the hospital depends on:
  • Type of surgery
  • Your reaction to the surgery and anesthesia

Post-procedure Care

Once you have recovered from anesthesia, you will be sent to a hospital room or home. For the first 24 hours or longer, avoid doing activities that require your attention, such as driving.
Preventing Infection
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
  • Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
  • Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
  • Not allowing others to touch your incision


American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

American Society of Anesthesiologists



Canadian Anesthesiologists Society

Health Canada



Anesthesia and you. American Society of Anesthesiologists website. Available at: Accessed July 28, 2009.

General anesthesia. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: Updated June 2009. Accessed July 28, 2009.

The Joint Commission website. Available at: Accessed July 28, 2009.

Pollard R, Coyle J, Gilbert R, Beck J. Intraoperative awareness in a regional medical system: A review of 3 years' data. Anesthesiology. 2007;269-274.

Sackel DJ. Anesthesia awareness: an analysis of its incidence, the risk factors involved, and prevention. Journal of Clinical Anesthesia. 2006;18:483-485.


Revision Information