Wake up time after general anesthesia


The wake-up time after general anesthesia describes the period from the end of an operation until the person concerned is mentally in a normal state again. During this time, those affected are cared for in the recovery room, which in most cases is right next to the operating room. Breathing and circulation are monitored there until they can be transferred back to the original ward or intensive care unit. The duration is usually between one and three hours. In most hospitals, the relatives of the person affected can be accompanied during the waking up phase.

Duration of the wake-up time

The duration of the wake-up time depends on many factors. First of all, the type of anesthesia is decisive for the waking up phase. Some anesthetics can be stopped specifically with antidotes so that the person concerned wakes up quickly. Other anesthetics have to be broken down by the body itself, which can increase the time it takes to fully recover after the operation. Furthermore, the breakdown of the anesthetic is very different depending on the patient. People with kidney or liver damage often take longer to convert and excrete the anesthetics.

The size and type of the operation also determine the time until complete recovery from general anesthesia. In most cases, waking up is initiated immediately after the operation. The anesthetist stops the anesthetic gas and pulls the ventilation tube so that the person concerned is usually still awake in the operating room. Normally, the entire waking up phase after the operation takes between one and three hours, which are fully waited for in the recovery room under supervision. In exceptional cases, it takes longer than three hours to wake up, but this differs from person to person and therefore does not automatically mean a complication. In the case of very serious operations, the operating team and the anesthetist can decide to keep the anesthesia and an artificial coma in order to give the body a chance to heal and avoid possible intracranial pressure.

You can find more information on this topic on the main page General anesthetic.

Pain in waking up

Depending on the operation, pain can occur after the operation. In this case, the person affected should report to the staff in the recovery room in order to receive pain medication for the postoperative pain. Some people also develop headaches or sore throats from ventilation. Basically, however, pain therapy by the anesthetist should resolve these problems. Depending on the type of muscle relaxation during the operation, you may experience severe muscle soreness.

You may also be interested in this topic: Aftermath of general anesthesia

Trembling while waking up

General anesthesia is always a major interference with the normal functions of the body and therefore has some side effects. In the context of general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist takes care of maintaining the body temperature with infusions and warming blankets, since the temperature regulation in the brain does not work properly during general anesthesia. After the anesthesia, the body has to get used to taking on this task again. This is also made more difficult by the fact that part of the general anesthesia is often muscle-relaxing drugs and these must first be completely broken down so that normal muscle function can return. These two mechanisms can cause some people to tremble after surgery.

This tremor increases the person's oxygen consumption many times over, which is why it is important to monitor the oxygen saturation in the recovery room. In addition, postoperative tremors can lead to increased complications in the operating room. Surgical sutures can come loose and leak, and those affected can develop more pain. To treat this after-effects of anesthesia, patients can be covered with warming blankets and painkillers can be given. The best prevention of post-operative tremors is to closely control body temperature during surgery and to warm up before waking up from anesthesia.

You might also be interested in these articles: The risks of general anesthesia such as Side effects of general anesthesia

Which factors influence the wake-up time?

The wake-up time depends on many factors. These include individual factors such as the rate at which the anesthetics are broken down in the liver and kidneys and the general physical condition. Another variable is the type of anesthesia, as the same medication cannot be used for every patient and every OP. Some anesthetic drugs are available in the body longer and thus also increase the time to wake up. Pre-existing illnesses and the type and size of the operation are also decisive for the wake-up time.

Wake up time after a caesarean section

In most cases, a caesarean section is not done under general anesthesia, but under spinal anesthesia. However, if general anesthesia is necessary, the wake-up times are approximately one to two hours, similar to other operations. A longer wake-up time can be due to an emergency caesarean section, as there is no time for long explanatory discussions and the anesthesia cannot be optimally tailored to the individual. After such anesthesia, the affected women are often weak and tired for the rest of the day.