Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Anesthesia

Not waking up after anesthesia

10/04/1999

Question:

Has there ever been any cases where someone didn`t wake up after having anesthesia?

Answer:

Modern anesthesia administered by competent professionals rarely causes serious, permanent complications. The chances of a serious complication depends on the medical condition of the patient, and the type of surgery, as well as the conduct of the anesthetic itself.

While this is very rare, there are several problems that could prevent a patient from waking up after a general anesthetic. Many of these are not directly related to the anesthesia itself. A comatose patient could have a serious metabolic problem, such as an electrolyte disorder, liver or kidney failure. Respiratory (lung) failure is another potential cause. A lack of oxygen to the body can cause permanent brain injury and coma. There may be a problem with inadequate blood flow to the brain, a blood clot or bleeding into the brain (stroke). In a few patients, for a variety of reasons, there may be slowed elimination of drugs from the body, and therefore delayed recovery from anesthesia. In time these patients will usually wake up fully, unlike the person who has had a permanent injury to the brain.

For more information:

Go to the Anesthesia health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Gareth S Kantor, MD Gareth S Kantor, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University