General Anesthetic


Was just wondering if have a general anesthetic is dangerous for those of us who still have an active AVM. I might need an op in the next month unrelated to the AVM.

Thanks in advance.
Sandra x

Hi sandra,

I wouldn’t see having a general anaesthetic (GA) as being a major problem whilst you have an active AVM. Anaesthesiologists catagorize their patients according to a set of criteria laid down by the American Society of Anaesthesiologists called the ASA classification for short.This classification system puts you into one of 5 catagories from catagory 1 ( i.e you are a normal healthy person) down to catagory 5 ( i.e you are not expected to live 24 hours even if you have an operation). For example, a healthy 20 year old going for a tonsillectomy would be catagory 1, whilst an 80 year old with a heart attack and a previous stroke who had just been run down by a lorry travelling at 80mph may be a catagory 5.

Most people are either catagory 1 or 2, (in fact most people on this network are probably catagory 2). Some of my friends are anaesthesiologists and I have discussed this very issue of GAs with them. Anaesthesiologists can anaesthetize catagory 1 and 2 patients with their eyes closed, and to be honest with you, no anaesthetist is going to operate on you electively (non emergency ), unless they are absolutely happy with the situation. You just need to let the consultant anaesthetist know in advance that you have the AVM.

Sometimes, if the anaesthetist only finds out about the AVM the day before the operation, he may decide to delay the operation for a while( not for any reasons to do with you, but just because they tend to only do a certain amount of difficult cases, average cases and easy cases in any particular operating list. Therefore, and I’m not sure about this, an operation on someone with an AVM may take longer than the same operation on someone without an AVM. This may move you from being an "easy " case ( time wise) to being a “difficult” case ( time wise). This won’t happen if you inform the consultant doing your operation of your AVM - some hospitals have anaesthetist lead out patient clinics, where rare/special people like those of us on this site with AVMs are seen a few weeks in advance of the operation, so that any “issues” can be dealt with early.

I know that you live in the UK, but the ASA classification is used there routinely as well. By the way, what is the unrelated operation, if you don’t mind me asking ?


Hi Sandra
They gave me a general anesthetic when I had my embolisation back in October. I think as long as your doctors have your up to date medical history they wouldn’t do it if not possible. So make sure you tell them and I’m sure you’ll be fine for your next op. Take Care Amanda

Hi Chris

Thanks for the informative reply. I notice that you are from Ireland, I am from Dublin. I met my husband on holiday and when I was twenty-one, came to live in the UK with him. That was twenty three years ago! I visit my family quite a lot and spent Easter with them in Cork.

By the way, I wanted a tummy tuck, I know in the scheme of things it is not important but after five children I think I need one! I have been told to get on with my life and try to forget the AVM so I am.

Sandra x

I had GA four times in the last year and a half for various surgeries not knowing about the AVM, so I think its safe. Now of course I would tel them first.

I have to have surgery on my rotator cuff, but no one has done it because they say general anesthesia is to dangerous because of the AVM! I’m meeting with a surgeon in a couple of weeks that may operate under a local anesthesia.