Patient deaths related to anesthesia have plummeted over the past 50 years, according to a new analysis of studies.
The findings, by a team of Canadian researchers, are based on a review of 87 studies worldwide that found post-anesthetic deaths have declined as much as 90 percent since before the 1970s.
During that time, the risk of dying from any cause within 48 hours of surgery has decreased by 88 percent, according to the study, published in the journal The Lancet.SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.
While the findings indicate significant progress has been made in surgery patient survival, there is more that can be done, particularly in lower-income areas, the researchers said.
"Although anesthetic mortality remains low compared with traffic fatalities or suicide, it still remains high compared with death caused by air travel, which is a commonly used yardstick to measure risk," said lead research Dr. Daniel Bainbridge, a scientist with the Lawson Health Research Institute and an anesthetist at London Health Sciences Centre.