Understanding your risk

When we talk about risk we are trying to balance the positives (benefits) of having an operation against the potential negatives (harm) and deciding whether you want to go ahead with the surgery.

Anaesthetic and surgical techniques and equipment have greatly improved over the last 60 years, as has training and safety equipment to help protect you. If you are in good heath then modern anaesthetics are really very safe. Risk cannot be removed completely though and therefore it is important to understand a little about the potential side effects and complications that could occur.

The Royal College of Anaesthetists have designed a number of leaflets to explain the concept of risk and look at the main risks of anaesthetics. Some are more common than others and they explain how they can be prevented or treated. Other more rare complications are also discussed but you should ask your anaesthetist about whether these are likely to apply to you.