• Mitch Keamy Photo Mitch Keamy is an anesthesiologist in Las Vegas Nevada Andy Kofke Photo Andy Kofke is a Professor of Neuro-anesthesiology and Critical Care at the University of Pennslvania Mike O'Connor Mike O'Connor is Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the University of Chicago Rob Dean Photo Rob Dean is a cardiac anesthesiologist in Grand Rapids Michigan, with extensive experience in O.R. administration.

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Marie Theresa

The best teacher my boys ever had taught third grade. When my older son had him for third grade, my younger son was in kindergarten. The first day of school, the younger one was anxious about how he would get to the room where the afterschool program was at the end of the day. I brought him to my older son's third-grade classroom and asked the teacher to let my thirdgrader go down to the kindergarten room at the end of the day to pick him up and take him to the afterschool room. The teacher got down on the floor, looked my kindergartner in the eye and told him not to worry because he would make sure his brother came down to get him. I never forgot how that teacher made my son feel like his concerns were important.


Dear Experts,

I have had impaired brain fuction as the result of general anesthetics. I know that proving a causal connection is difficult. However it seems that too many people seem to think that simply being unable to prove something necessarily disproves it.

Following more than one occasion of recieving GA at the age of 36 I awoke with terrible head pain which was unendurable. On scale 1-10 it was off the scale. (Childbirth 4)Following this I found I had lost a massive amount of brain function.

Subsequently I had many ops under local until I came to a surgeon who did not believe that there was a problem. As a result he used GA against my consent resulting in catastrophic effects. He later cliamed it was only for sedation. I became immediately unconscious and was out for three hours. I have constant and debilitating headaches, lost a gt deal of brain function and have become absurdly sensitive to a wide range of chemicals. Comments and recommendations please.DMJ.

Amy Russell

I had general anaethesia a for a hip replacement 3 weeks ago. Healing going well. Physical therapy 3x week. Most days I nap after lunch. Problem is that when I wake up I feel as tho I returned to "coma-like" or "hibernation-like" state of anaethesia. I have difficulty breathing, just as I did right after surgery. I feel groggy and unable to think clearly. These symptoms last a few hours then clear up.

What is this? Should I be concerned? Any recommendations for what to do? Thank you.

feannie  Winkelman

Can inhaled anesthesia exacerbate essential tremor and cause enough cell death to "tip someone over" into Parkinson's disease?
I awoke from anesthesia shaking terrible--allmost rattling my bones against tthe table--and haven't been the same since. The days post surgery my arms were shaky and i had trouble dialing the phone. I could no longer pick the guitar. The other symptoms came on more gradually. Did teh anesthsia do this? Was I moer vulnerable due to essential tremor?


Hi. The shaking you experienced was almost certainly shivering, a common side effect (5-10%) of general anesthesia. It occurs when the patient is cold/hypothermic following anesthesia, or sometimes, just from drug effects of the anesthetic, and is usually treated with demerol, although the mechanism by which demerol alleviates this shivering is not understood. Data suggests that it does work, however.

While inhalation anesthesia is known to be mildly neuro-toxic (kills brain cells), I am aware of no data to suggest that an uneventful anesthetic would exacerbate (worsen) existing tremors or initiate the onset of parkinsonism. Arm weakness/shakiness can be caused by tightness of the spinal canal at the neck, and other mechanical problems of the brain/spinal cord. I assume that you underwent a careful evaluation to rule out the many possible causes of such distressing symptoms.

I hope that you have found a diagnosis and some relief from this problem. If you are in or near a big city or academic center, a consultation with a neurologist who specializes in motion disorders would be a good next step.

Good luck to you and thanks for dropping by


Really great and informative piece. I've been "under" before and that's exactly how it was explained to me! Truth be told, I did have anxiety because I still felt like I wasn't too sure what was going on. To be fair though, I do have anxiety problems haha. For anyone with anxiety issues like me, I suggest visiting and purchasing a low key one to vaporize anti-anxiety herbs like lavendar or sage.


Interesting article.
My family is currently is a rather uncomfortable position right now of watching a father/grandfather with some serious medical issues. My father-in-law had a heart attack while on the table for a bypass a number of years ago. This left him with approx. 15 to 20% heart efficiency. Even with that he has lead a pretty normal, albeit slower and not without issues, life for that last 10 to 12 years.
Recently, he was diagnosed with melanoma on the top of his head. A procedure was done which ended up with 6 months of infection and a rejected skin graph. He was referred to Duke and a top surgeon there. They did surgery under general anesthesia to remove the melanoma and part of the skull, leaving him with an open hole in the top of his head. The plan was to put him under again to close the hole. No matter what this was a two surgery procedure.

After the first surgery there was a false sense of comfort because of how well he was recovering, better than when he was pre op.

The Anesthetist did on numerous times warn of the risks with GA prior to both surgeries. My father-in-law was counseled at length and made to sign a living will type document about a number of situations.

My father-in-laws wife of 50+ years and oldest daughter left for the week prior to his second surgery and would be back the day follow it. My wife was there with him the day before and the day of the 2nd surgery and heard the warnings.

Within minutes of starting the second surgery and just went under GA, he crashed. BP was lost, compressions were started. After about half an hour of working on him my wife was called in to be updated and was told his condition and to contact family members. We didn't hear anything else for another 4 hours. I drove 3 hours to get my mother-in-law and was partially into the return trip when we got an update. They were able to revive him and he is somewhat stable, some wild BP swings because of a med that all the Drs want him off asap.

They still need to do surgery to fix the hole and are planning surgery on Tuesday to close the hole.

I had a hernia repair a few months ago, laparoscopically, and when the Anesthetist talked with me the risks told to me were dramatically downplayed. I'm in good health but after the surgery for about 2 weeks I had a sense of disorientation, almost detachment, maybe call it an aura. None of these possible side effects were ever told to me.

I'm sure GA effects everyone differently based on each persons physiology and conditions but I agree that it should never be downplayed. Anyone going under GA should not wait for a Dr to tell them the risks you need to be proactive and talk to them and not just nod your head in consent.

Lou saffy

Hello, i am really scared about going into dental surgery, i went to have a injection 2 months ago to get 3 teeth taken out while i was awake but i am soooo teribbly petrified with needles, im coming up soon with my general anstetic and i am getting really scared?!!! Is there anything you can say to give me a boost?? Thanks.

Mitch Keamy

Normally, dentists will just sedate rather than induce full general anesthesia; either nitrous oxide or injectable sedation, like midazolam. Is this what your caregiver is planning? If so, you ought to be fine if you are otherwise healthy and go with an empty stomach...

Stuart Rapschutz

Please can you help me? I'm about to go into hospital to have an operation to remove my wisdom tooth, and it's going to be done under General Anaesthetic. I am absolutely terrified about suffering some kind of damage to my brain function.

Is there anything you can tell me that might help?

I would greatly appreciate any assistance you can give.

Many thanks.

Mitch Keamy

Without knowing you particular health situation, specific reassurance would be idle and irresponsible. However, in general, anesthesia is extraordinarily safe thanks to a century of hard work by many dedicated scientists and academic clinicians. Anxiety is a common emotional response to surgery and anesthesia, and your anesthesiologist will be glad to give you medications to alleviate your fear. As well, you should have a careful discussion regarding your anesthetic plan; I find that informing patients regarding their care is reassuring to them.

Good luck


Hi, I'm a 37 year old mom, who's goin'to have a reduction mammoplasty, I've read everything about anesthesia and it's risk and it's relatively safe but still got this nagging thoughts...I'm hypothyroid and I know that anesthesia will have some reaction or whatever...and I'm also hyperlipemic, will it make some clots to tear away from my arterial wall if ever I have any plaque formation in my artery and cause embolism?


I had ether for my tonsilectomy when I was 3 to 4 years old about 1946.
I remember something about a funnel before I went under. It makes me uneasy to think about it today so something doesn't feel right.
Was ether ever administrated by an enema?
My mother said I was enraged when I woke up. I was standing in the crib screaming and had huge bald spots all over my head where I had pulled out chunks of my hair.
Later in life I was an alcoholic and finally realized that ether was the very first alcohol I ever ingested.
I'd like to know if anyone experienced those sort of things.

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