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Anesthesia

Nausea and vomiting after sinus surgery

08/20/2003

Question:

My husband had surgery on his sinuses last year. He was given anesthesia, the nurses had a hard time waking him when it was over, when they finally awaken him, he became nausea and starting vomiting. My husband is about to have his wisdom teeth pulled, i`am afraid what may happen this time. What is your advice?

Answer:

My first piece of advice, as always, is for your husband to talk about his previous experience with the anesthesiologist who is going to take care of him. The anesthesiologist is likely to tell you that sinus surgery is associated with a higher incidence of nausea and vomiting than most other surgical procedures. One reason for this is that blood from the site of the surgery can drip down or be swallowed into the stomach and trigger the nausea. By comparison, dental extractions are relatively minor procedures, usually with less nausea, and more rapid recovery. Although nausea and vomiting may occur after dental surgery done under general anesthesia, there are several things that can be done to improve the odds in your favor. These include the use of anti-nausea medications, the selection of certain anesthesia drugs less likely to cause nausea, keeping well hydrated, and effectively treating pain. For individuals at high risk of nausea, there is even a special battery powered bracelet that works on acupuncture principles that is effective in preventing this troublesome problem. Recovery time from anesthesia is related to several things that include the duration of the anesthetic, the medications that are given, non-anesthetic medications being taken by the patient, other medical conditions that the patient may have, as well as individual susceptibility to anesthetic medications, some of which is probably genetic. So, anesthetic technique plays a part in shortening recovery time, but we cannot accurately predict how an individual patient will respond. Once again, make sure to mention your concerns to the anesthesiologist. With attention to the factors that can be controlled your husband will hopefully have a less upsetting experience with his forthcoming surgery.

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Response by:

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