Risks associated with anaesthesia

In modern anaesthesia, serious problems are uncommon.

Risk cannot be removed completely, but modern equipment, training and drugs have made it a much safer procedure in recent years.

To understand a risk, you must know:

  • how likely it is to happen
  • how serious it could be
  • how it can be treated.

The risk to you as an individual will depend on:

  • whether you have any other illness
  • personal factors, such as smoking or being overweight
  • surgery which is complicated, long or done in an emergency.
More information on the side effects and complications described in these pages is in the information leaflet ‘Anaesthesia explained’. Download »
APA Position statement on Anaesthesia and the developing brain Download »
SmartTots is a Public-Private Partnership between the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) that aims to coordinate and fund a research programme to ensure safe anaesthesia for infants and young children. Visit
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