Anesthesiologist Questions Anesthesia

Is it possible to be allergic to anesthesia?

I happen to be allergic to so many things, including foods and certain medications. My doctor recently told me I need to have surgery on my shoulder. This, of course, requires general anesthesia. Is it possible I could be allergic to anesthesia?

10 Answers

True severe allergies to anesthesia, though rare, can happen. Malignant hyperthermia is a life-threatening genetically transmitted anesthesia allergy condition which runs in the family and one can be tested for it. Mild allergic reactions can occur and so can severe anaphylactic reactions to certain muscle relaxants and antibiotics used under GA.
Although it seems just about anything is possible, the gases used for general anesthesia now are very unlikely to be anything which would trigger a true allergic reaction an a patient.
Allergy is possible to certain medications used in anesthesia but is very rare.
It depends. Have you been under general anesthesia before? If yes, what were the medications given? Most patients are not allergic to anesthetic meds, but there are few who could be allergic to active or inactive ingredients. Most notable allergies or side effects are to a muscle relaxant called Succinylcholine. Some are prone to more side effects from GE like nausea, vomiting, etc.
In theory It is possible that you will be allergic to one or more drugs and agents used in Anesthesia. However it is rare and if you are going to have a reaction it is best to have it under the care of an experienced Anesthesiologist in the OR. The most dreaded reaction to fear is severe anaphylactic shock with bronchospasm and there are several ways to take preventive measures and treat it if necessary.
You can be allergic to certain medications used. Your anesthesiologist will ask you about allergies and decide on the best anesthetic plan.

Boris Yaguda, M.D.
Very few people are truly allergic to anesthetic agents per se. Theoretically and practically speaking, when one is anesthetized, one’s cardiovascular system is monitored on continuous basis, the operating room is well equipped with resuscitation drugs, making it the best place to have an allergic reaction.
The vast majority of patients are not allergic to general anesthesia agents. Some patients may have allergies to local anesthetics such as Lidocaine (similar to what dentists use) but most again do not. If you have concerns your anesthesiologist can address them with you prior to the procedure or you can consult with your allergist. If you have had Lidocaine or Novocaine in the dentists office without problem before, generally you should be fine.
Yes, it is extremely rare though! You need to inform the anesthesiologist about any complications from previous surgery or anesthesia events in you or your family, since malignant hyperthermia is a treatable condition if appropriate precautions are observed!

Best regards
1st you could do the shoulder under peripheral nerve block with sedation instead of general anesthesia. 2nd allergies to drugs administered for anesthesia have a low allergic propensity, but, nonetheless, possible.