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What is anesthesia awareness?

Like others in Queens, you have likely heard stories of patients waking up during surgery and dismissed them as being just that. However, anesthesia awareness is an actual diagnosed medical condition. What is anesthesia awareness? It is defined as the failure of anesthetic medication during a procedure, causing you to become aware of what is happening to you.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists reports that anesthesia awareness is believed to occur in one or two of every 1000 general anesthesia cases. It is different than experiencing pain after having been given a local anesthetic, as it is anticipated that your consciousness will not be depressed to the point of not being able to recall events in such cases. In fact, those who experience anesthesia awareness may not report feeling any pain at all. Rather, they typically describe only feeling a strange sense of pressure.

A number of different factors can contribute anesthesia awareness, yet the primary cause is typically a judgment error on the part of an anesthesiologist. Such providers consider a number of different factors when deciding how much anesthesia to administer, such as:

  •          Age
  •          Weight
  •          Gender

They must also take into account factors such as other medications you are taking, as well as the type of procedure being performed. In high-risk surgeries such as trauma or cardiac procedures, anesthesiologists typically avoid using extremely deep anesthesia because lowering your level of consciousness too far during such surgeries could endanger your life. It is for this reason that these procedures produce the most reported cases of anesthesia awareness.

While it was stated earlier that most cases of anesthesia awareness do not produce pain, they can exact a severe psychological toll. You may find it necessary to seek counseling to help cope with the feelings your experience leaves you with.  

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