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Safety is the primary focus of your anaesthetic care. Multiple precautions will be taken to reduce your risk of complications but these may not eliminate the risk. Below is a list of potential risks and complications. This list does not include all possible complications but does cover most of the important considerations.


If you have any specific concerns please discuss these directly with your anaesthetist. 


  • Nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth, sore throat, sleep disturbance

  • Moderate early postoperative pain 

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness when trying to stand which may result in falls

  • Low blood pressure or low heart rate

  • Urinary retention or inability to completely empty your bladder is possible and will be monitored by bladder ultrasound if needed. If unable to void and uncomfortable, or if the bladder ultrasound measures more than 500mls fluid then a catheter may need to be inserted into the bladder


  • Persistent severe pain on awakening or in the early postoperative period. 

  • Confusion, disorientation, and hallucinations are possible but not common

  • Nerve injury resulting in persistent numbness or painful sensations and weakness of muscles are possible and if they occur may be very slow to resolve usually taking several weeks or months. Permanent nerve injury is rare

  • Dental injury

  • Eye abrasions or red painful eye 

  • Postoperative deep venous thrombosis (blood clot in veins in the leg) or pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung)


  • Allergy to anaesthetic medications or antibiotics

  • Aspiration of stomach contents into lungs

  • Bleeding into the leg related to nerve block injections which may require further imaging, surgery or blood transfusion

  • Awareness of events during surgery

  • Permanent nerve injury resulting in permanent sensory change, or weakness of related muscle group

  • Infection of intravenous cannula or nerve block catheter. 

  • Stroke, heart attacks and pneumonia are all rare but serious complications

  • Fat embolism syndrome is very rare related to bone drilling during joint replacement and may result in breathing difficulty or neurological complications similar to a stroke


Is there a chance I will wake up during the operation?

Fortunately this potentially very distressing situation termed 'awareness' is very rare. There are several things that are done to avoid this. Anaesthetic doses can be computer assisted and monitored with brain wave activity to give a extra information to your anaesthetist to help completely avoid this risk.

I get very sick with anaesthetics. What can you do?

Intravenous anaesthetic can be used instead of gases, addition of preventative medications, use of local anaesthetic to reduce need for strong pain medications and using pain medications with lowest risk of nausea all help to reduce the risk of this very unpleasant side effect.

I don't tolerate strong pain relievers. What are my options?

Use of plenty of local anaesthetic will reduce your need for strong relievers. Use of different types of non-narcotic pain medications will help and newer pain medications such a PALEXIA can reduce your risk of severe side effects.

I have a severe needle phobia. What can you do?

This can be expertly managed. Please click here to read more.

Is there a chance that I might not wake up?

Risk of death under anaesthesia is exceptionally rare. If you have specific concerns please discuss these with your anaesthetist.

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