It is important that an individual is as healthy as possible before undergoing surgery or receiving anesthesia. That means if someone catches a cold before the surgery, the doctor and anesthesiologist should be notified so they can decide the best course of action.
Having a cold doesn't necessarily delay the surgery, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If the surgery is critical, the surgeon and anesthesiologist may decide it is better to proceed than to delay the surgery. However, it is important that a patient can breathe freely during a surgery with anesthesia, and this becomes more challenging when someone has a cold. The airway becomes more sensitive and there may be secretions in the air passages, all of which could cause a coughing fit in the middle of surgery. These events can be treated, which is why an urgent surgery will proceed, but they are troublesome and some anesthesiologists may prefer to delay the surgery.