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genral anastetic

Hi all Has any of you guys had a genral anastetic even having brittle asthma Im due to have a secound eblashion on my heart (im on waiting list) and been told by the surgeon I can have a genral due to me panicking and trying to get off the table during my first eblashion even having been sedated just woundering if its safe my asthma ha been stable since jaunary but still bit scared of what could happen thanks in advance KA

2 Replies

I had a double by pass in January and was out for 24 hours as they had to go in again as I was bleeding. I was discharged after 5 days and have not felt as fit for 10 years. No effects on my severe asthma.


Hi Kerry-Anne,

Sorry to hear that you have to have another ablation, and that you had a hard time last time.

Having a general anaesthetic (GA) may be slightly higher risk for a brittle asthmatic. Being given a general aneasthetic involves being given drugs to put you to sleep (obviously!) and then having a tube put down your throat and being put on a ventilator to breath for you. It is not the same as being ventilated for your asthma, which is obviously done in an emergency situation with a lot more unknown factors. When you have an operation under a general anaesthetic, it is under the supervision of an anaesthetist who is there keeping an eye on you all the time.

There are probably two main risks. The first risk is of triggering an asthma attack - there is a small risk that being tubed or ventilated may trigger a bit of bronchospasm in some people. Additionally, it may be that some of the drugs that are used might trigger an attack, although this should be minimised if they know you and any allergies. If you suffered an attack, it would be picked up very quickly by the anaesthetist and treated agressively. Obviously, if it was a severe attack, you would already be ventilated so in a sense, you would be safer, as the ventilator would already be doing the work for you. Severe attacks during GA are very rare.

The second risk is that in a few people, there may be difficulty in weaning off the ventilator and getting them to start breathing again. This is usually only the case if someone has very severely damaged lungs or has another problem such as problems with the breathing muscles. This is not the case for most asthmatics. If you had this sort of damage, you would usually be very limited in what you could do, and would probably be on home oxygen all the time.

Before you have a GA, the anaesthetist will come and talk to you, discuss your full medical history including any allergies, and will have a good look at you. If they think you are not fit for any reason, such as if you have a chest infection, they will cancel the surgery and will reschedule it for another time. They may decide to admit you beforehand to stabilise you, and they may keep you afterwards to make sure that you are alright.

I know there are many people on this board who have severe or brittle asthma and have had a GA without problems. I had a GA for a laparoscopy about eight years ago - I had brittle asthma at the time. I was admitted two days beforehand to be properly assessed and stablised. If necessary I would have been started on iv aminophylline, but as it happened, I was fairly well and this wasn't necessary. I was also kept for the night afterwards, although it was usual to discharge people the same day. It all went fine and there weren't any problems.

I know it is frightening, but I am sure your doctors know you well, and they wouldn't recommend this unless they thought it was necessary and safe.

Hope this helps, take care

Em H


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