A general anaesthetic is usually given for an emergency caesarean section (Category 1), where there is imminent threat to the mother or foetus. There are many risks in performing a general anaesthetic. The aim of this review is to highlight the effects and risks to the mother and foetus of each step of a general anaesthetic.
Anaesthetic techniques are changing, and the traditional mantra of using a general anaesthetic for an emergency caesarean sections is being challenged. There are also multiple potential risks of a general anaesthetic that are being better defined. This ranges from awareness during surgery, through to foetal and maternal risks of complications.
This review will outline the different stages of a general anaesthetic and highlight the risks. This summary will allow a better understanding of anaesthetic risks. This will allow obstetricians to have a more informed conversation with an anaesthetist as to form of anaesthetic required (general anaesthetic versus spinal or epidural top-up). The review will also allow obstetricians to give more informed consent to mothers and be aware of the postoperative risks.