Background: Previous studies regarding general anaesthesia related morbidity and mortality rates for dental surgery have taken the form of a retrospective survey. The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists also do not record morbidity and mortality for dental/oral and maxillofacial procedures. The aim of this study was to document the clinical incidents requiring transfer to another hospital and mortality.
Methods: Records from patients transferred to another hospital after having treatment under general anaesthesia performed at the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2009 were prospectively reviewed.
Results: There were 17 557 general anaesthesia procedures performed during the review period, including paediatric, special needs and minor oral and maxillofacial surgery procedures. The incidence of morbidity requiring transfer to a hospital with overnight stay facilities was 0.13%. There were no cases of mortality recorded. The most common complication was low oxygen saturation.
Conclusions: The low incidence of morbidity seen is most likely attributed to the safety of modern anaesthesia and appropriate patient selection. Dentists and dental specialists performing general anaesthesia procedures should be aware of the complications that arise so that informed consent can be obtained. This study also provides a benchmark for general anaesthesia morbidity/mortality for dental procedures.