What Happens if I Wake Up During Surgery?

In some cases, patients can wake up during surgery and become conscious or aware of their surroundings, while under general anesthesia. This is a rare occurrence, also known as anesthesia awareness or intraoperative awareness. Although potentially distressing and traumatic, it is important to note that modern anesthesia techniques and safety measures are designed to to ensure that patients remain unconscious throughout the surgical procedure.

Patients who experience anesthesia awareness may be able to hear, see, or even feel what is happening to you. This can be frightening, but waking up during surgery does not necessarily mean that you are in danger or that the surgery has gone wrong. The anesthesia team will typically notice and take action to address the situation. This may involve administering additional anesthesia or adjusting the dosage of anesthesia already being administered. They may also communicate with the patient to provide reassurance and explain what is happening.

After the surgery, patients who experience interoperative awareness should discuss their experience with your healthcare team, including the anesthesia professional, surgeon, and nurse. They can provide you with more information about what happened and why, and offer support and resources to help you cope with any emotional or psychological effects of the experience.

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