All surgeries inherently pose some risk, which is why many people are often nervous before going under the knife. But some surgeries in particular are especially dangerous, due to sensitive organs or complex procedures.
In general, any procedures that are considered “invasive” can be risky. This could involve anything that involves a skin incision, anesthesia, biopsies, or endoscopies (such as colonoscopies or bronchoscopies), among other things. Complications during surgery can arise from anesthesia problems; for example, a patient might have an adverse reaction to the drug that knocks them out. Anesthesia also often involves intubation, or inserting a breathing tube, which could potentially lead to aspiration (inhaling food or fluid into the lungs). Sometimes, anesthesia can lead to malignant hyperthermia, or the extreme rising of the body temperature.
Other problems can be caused by bleeding problems, blood clots, or delayed healing. Of course, these complications are rare and shouldn’t prevent you from undergoing surgery, but they are all things of which surgeons have to be aware. Below are the five riskiest surgeries.
1. Open Heart Surgery
Open heart surgery involves any procedure that cuts open the chest and surgeons work on the heart muscles, arteries, or valves. The most common type of open heart surgery is coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), which involves grafting or attaching a healthy artery or vein to a blocked coronary artery — essentially “bypassing” the blocked artery and providing blood to the heart. The surgeons provide the patient with general anesthesia, cuts an eight to 10-inch gap in the chest, then cuts through the patient’s breastbone.
This leaves the patient open to risks such as a chest wound infection — which is especially dangerous and likely for people with obesity or diabetes. The patient might also experience a heart attack or stroke, an irregular heartbeat, lung or kidney failure, chest pain, fever, memory loss, blood clots or blood loss, and breathing difficulties.
2. Liver transplants
The liver is an extremely valuable and significant organ; we rely on it to keep us functioning on a daily basis. It detoxifies the body and also transforms food into energy. Though liver transplants are relatively common procedures, they still remain very risky: the chance that the body will reject the new organ is quite high, so liver transplant patients often have to take medication that maintains their immune system for the rest of their lives, in order to keep organ transplant rejection at bay. Other complications include: bleeding, infection, blockage of blood vessels to the new liver, leaking of bile or blocked bile ducks, and initial lack of new liver function, according to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.