Section II. EFFECTS OF ANESTHESIA ON MAJOR BODY SYSTEMS
The physiological needs of the postoperative surgical patient are of paramount
importance. Once these needs are met, his psychological and social needs can be met.
The effects of anesthesia tend to last well into the postoperative phase and affect the
respiratory, cardiovascular, urinary, and gastrointestinal systems.
Anesthesia can cause a patient's pulmonary efficiency to decrease, thereby
causing an increase in the probability of postoperative pneumonia. We all must breathe
and take in sufficient oxygen in order to live. Respiratory function, or breathing, is often
compromised in the surgical patient. The combination of drugs given to produce
anesthesia or to reduce pain, as well as the body's response to the trauma of surgery
itself, will affect the respiratory function.
Certain anesthetic agents can increase the probability of cardiac problems and
postoperative hypotension. Common circulatory problems include hemorrhage and
shock, cardiac arrest, and postoperative hypotension. Disruption of sutures and
insecure ligation of blood vessels can cause hemorrhage. Shock occurs as a result of
hemorrhage or cardiac insufficiency.
Anesthesia can cause urinary retention. This is not an uncommon complication
since anesthesia temporarily depresses urinary bladder tone. A decrease in fluid intake
can lead to dehydration and infection.
Anesthesia slows or stops the peristaltic action of the intestine, which results in
constipation. Nausea and vomiting may cause fluid imbalance. Abdominal
distention/flatus may also be present.