ASA grade

ASA stands for American Society of Anesthesiologists. ASA grades are a simple scale describing fitness to undergo an anaesthetic. The American Society of Anesthesiologists clearly states that it does not endorse any elaboration of these definitions. However, anaesthetists in the UK often qualify (or interpret) these grades as relating to functional capacity, ie comorbidity that does (ASA grade 3) or that does not (ASA grade 2) limit a patient’s activity.

Table 2.3 in Chapter Two attempts to characterise signs and symptoms associated with ASA grades 2 and 3. Panellists were asked to use their own interpretation of the ASA grades if they used them habitually and to refer to the table for illustration of the ‘kinds of patients’ likely to be classified in each category.

ASA grade 1normal healthy patient’
ie without any clinically important comorbidity and without a clinically significant past/present medical history
ASA grade 2A patient with mild systemic disease’
ASA grade 3A patient with severe systemic disease’
ASA grade 4A patient with severe systemic disease that is a constant threat to life’
ASA grade 5A moribund patient who is not expected to survive without the operation’
ASA grade 6A declared brain-dead patient whose organs are being removed for donor purposes’


These definitions appear in each annual edition of the ASA Relative Value Guide.

There is no additional information that will help you further define these categories.