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Anesthesia in Young Children is Not Linked to a Lower IQ

  • Having a child with health issues can be extremely stressful on parents and guardians, especially when the young child needs to undergo a serious procedure that requires anesthesia. While parents are often apprehensive about the effects anesthesia may have on their child in the future, a new study from the Mayo Clinic shows anesthesia in young children is not linked to a lower IQ. This topic is often researched, and the results from this particular study should be reassuring to parents with children in need of surgery. This particular study researched a group of 997 children born between 1994 and 2007, all from the same county. 380 of these children had been exposed to anesthesia once before the age of three, 206 children had been exposed to anesthesia two or more times, and 411 children had never been exposed to anesthesia in their lifetime. 42% of those studied had received anesthesia due to a surgery for medical conditions involving the ears, nose, and throat. The group was given brain function tests between age 8 and 12 and again between age 15 and 20. When the results from this study were assessed, there were no significant differences between the three groups in the areas of intelligence, memory, and other brain functions that were measured. Children exposed to anesthesia multiple times before the age of three did, however, have a slight decrease processing speed of the brain and in fine motor coordination. These children also had a greater likelihood of behavioral problems and learning difficulties.  This is evidence that anesthesia in young children is not linked to a lower IQ. “These secondary outcomes must be interpreted cautiously,” write the researchers, “but [they] suggest … that exposure to multiple procedures requiring general anesthesia is associated with a subtle, specific pattern of injury that may have consequences for subsequent learning and behavior.” This was an observational study, which means the results that showed lower scores in motor skills and brain processing, could be unrelated to the multiple exposures to anesthesia. Dr. David Warner, the study’s lead author and a pediatric anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center in Rochester doesn’t want this study’s findings to scare parents.  “The last thing I want to do is prevent any child who needs an operation from getting it because of this,” he said. “Overall, the results are pretty reassuring,” said Dr. David Warner,“There’s not much evidence that a single exposure is associated with any harmful outcome.” Of children that need surgery before the age of three, more than 80% of children only undergo that one procedure. While this topic is still being researched, this study should give parents some peace of mind wthat anesthesia in young children is not linked to a lower IQ. The results show that when the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks of anesthesia, parents should be able to make the decision with less stress and worry. If you or someone you know is preparing for surgery that requires anesthesia, head to the Anesthesia Information for Surgery Patients section of our website.

    01 Sep
    01 Sep
  • When under anesthesia or in a coma, the brain goes through an unconscious state of mind. Have you ever thought about how the brain comes back to consciousness? Research shows that the brain turns on certain sections at a time rather than all at once.  The brain begins by turning on the prefrontal cortex first, allowing the brain to participate in abstract problem-solving capabilities. The prefrontal cortex is also responsible for memory and motor control, along with problem-solving skills. Other parts of the brain begin to turn on such as reaction times and attention spans, slowly following the prefrontal cortex. Since these sections turn on slower, some people may experience confusion and lack of attention on one topic upon waking.  Researchers were able to learn about how the brain turns on after the body is in an unconscious state, by utilizing electroencephalography (EEG) scans. They also performed cognitive tests on participants before and after they went under anesthesia for surgery. The tests focused on reaction speed and memory. After the brain was fully recovered, the participants were asked if their sleep was impacted, which concluded that it was not. Furthermore, the brain will take roughly three hours to fully recover after waking up from receiving anesthesia.  Although scientists still do not fully understand how anesthesia works, they understand that without it, many major surgeries would not be possible. This is the only way to turn off consciousness in the brain, other than involuntarily slipping into a coma. The brain is a mysterious, intricate organ that slowly will turn back on after regaining consciousness. 

    14 Jul
    14 Jul
  • When we go under anesthesia we obviously don’t know what is happening to our brain. It simply shuts off and we wake up a few hours later, possibly feeling a little dazed. So are you actually asleep? Are you in a coma? All of these questions are being worked on being answered and we are getting closer and closer to finding out the truth.  In a state of consciousness, thoughts are quite literally running across your mind. Neurons are continually being fired to make sense of everything around you forming your perception of consciousness and what is what.  When all of these neurons are firing and constantly communicating with each other, your brain becomes a highway of vehicles always in motion. When anesthesia is introduced, there is a clear signal to every vehicle on your highway of thoughts to stop. A way that neuro scientists measure the activity of your neurons is an electroencephalogram, or EEG. When measuring this in a person that is awake, neurons are constantly moving and communicating with each other. When they read the EEG when anesthesia is introduced, all of the neurons shut down, almost immediately.  At this point, the question being asked is: What does this mean? If we are able to further our understanding of how quickly all of the neurons in our brain are told to stop and how fast we lose consciousness, anesthesia can become even more safe to use. Optimizing the doses given to each individual based on an EEG reading might be able to achieve safety and security within the field. Small improvements can be made as well, such as limiting the time a person is unconscious after a surgery or how dazed they are when they first become conscious again.  All of these improvements are being made faster in a world where information is in an abundance. There can be major leaps in the medical field, including anesthesia. Stay here for more about how anesthesia works and new developments in technology and information.

    02 Jun
    02 Jun
  • As children, our mother’s healing voice was always something that could calm us down and make us feel better. Even now as adults, many people will still give their Mom a call when faced with a stressful situation. Researchers have recognized this, and are hoping to determine if a mom’s voice helps reduce emergence delirium if children hear their mother’s healing voice in a recording after anesthesia.  After a procedure, children recovering from anesthesia sometimes experience a behavioral disturbance known as “emergence delirium.” The condition may cause patients to become very confused or experience hallucinations, which can be stressful for the children as well as caregivers and parents. Aside from being extremely uncomfortable and frightening, emergence delirium can be dangerous. Children sometimes move violently, injuring themselves and opening incisions. Researchers in South Korea believe a mom’s voice helps reduce emergence delirium. Studies in the past have shown that a mother’s voice can activate certain areas in the brain, affect behavioral and neural responses, and involuntarily cause children to be more attentive.  The study included 66 children between the ages of two and eight recovering from eye, ear, nose, or throat surgeries. Half of the children heard a recording of their mother’s voice asking them to wake up over noise-cancelling headphones, while the other half heard a stranger saying the same words. Researchers will examine the results, and determine whether or not the children who heard mom’s voice helps reduce emergence delirium than the children who heard the voice of a stranger.  This study has just recently concluded, and researchers are still studying and analyzing the results. If they do find a link the mom’s voice helps reduce emergence delirium in children, it will be a great option for medical professionals to use to keep children safe and reduce the child’s stress and anxiety following anesthesia.

    08 Feb
    08 Feb
  • Any type of surgery is likely to cause anxiety and fear in patients of all ages. However, surgery can be a completely terrifying and stressful experience for children. This can pose a problem for medical professionals, especially when administering anesthesia to these young patients. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals have used different techniques over the years, hoping to calm patients down before procedures and treatments. While stickers and toys have been very helpful, medical professionals are now finding that new technologies are very effective.  The latest finds that virtual reality calms young surgical patients more effectively than other methods. Thanks to a group of pediatric specialists at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, virtual reality calms young surgical patients.  A technique that has been helpful for older children, is giving them a virtual tour of the hospital and operating room beforehand so they know exactly what to expect on the day of their surgery. Zack Dwyer, a 17 year old preparing for surgery to correct supraventricular tachycardia, strapped on virtual reality goggles on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, taking a virtual trip through the hospital starting at the entrance and ending in the recovery room. He had an opportunity to see exactly what he was going to see on the day of his surgery, even what it would look like as he was lying in the operating room speaking to a surgeon. After undergoing his procedure, Dwyer said “It definitely would have been super overwhelming if I didn’t know that was coming”. While this technique works great for teenagers, younger children can be a bit more difficult. Administering anesthesia to frightened children can be a challenge as their fear leads them to squirm and pull off their anesthesia masks. For these kids, virtual reality video games are used to distract them and trick them into breathing the anesthetic. One game, Sevo the Dragon, takes breathing anesthetic through a mask and turns it into an enjoyable game. Children pick a dragon avatar and the type of food they want to “cook” using the dragons fiery breath. The patient continues to play the game until they fall asleep.  While these techniques are still in their early stages, they are already seeing how virtual reality clms young surgical patients, reducing their fear and anxiety on the day of their surgery. This technology is primarily being used on children at the moment, but it may be a helpful distraction for older patients as well. A reduction of stress and anxiety in patients undergoing anesthesia is helpful to the person as well as the medical professionals assisting with the procedure.

    21 Dec
    21 Dec
  • When having a pre-surgical consultation with your doctor, they will determine whether or not you will have to go under anesthesia. Complications may occur if the patient is awake or aware of what is happening during the procedure. For those patients who are having surgery or receiving anesthesia for the first time, they may have some questions beforehand including what may happen after the procedure. Here are some anesthesia FAQS for general surgery and anesthesia, and the answers may vary depending on the type of surgery and your doctor’s preferences.   What is the Health History of the Patient? The number one asked question for physicians is the health history of the patient. Past experiences for the patient may alter and change the procedure and anesthesia. Medications being taken or allergies suffered can also affect the process of anesthesia.  What type of Anesthesia will I be Receiving? Another question typically asked is what are the different types of anesthesia you may be receiving? The most common ways to receive anesthesia are injected in the arm or inhaled through a mask. The patient may request a certain way to receive it depending on how they feel about it, but the doctor may feel more comfortable with one option insisting that it’s done that way over the other for medical reasons. Injection through IV usually has a shorter recovery time than through a mask which makes the patient more tired for a longer period of time. Depending on the patient and type of surgery, the doctor will determine which one is more suitable.  How do I Prepare for Surgery? How to prepare for surgery is another area of interest for most patients. What needs to be done to prevent any complications for the doctor? Avoiding solid food for several hours before surgery, following all doctor’s instructions, and possibly stopping certain medications that may interfere with the anesthesia are all common recommendations leading up to a procedure. The doctor or medical assistant will go over all the pre-surgical procedures and recommendations with the patient to ensure a safe and controlled environment.  What are the Common Side Effects of Anesthesia? Common side effects is another area of interest for most patients preparing for a procedure. Some side effects can occur, but are very minor consisting of nausea, dry mouth, tiredness, and a sore throat. These side effects may not occur at all or appear suddenly depending on the patient. Also, on occasion, there are more serious complications after surgery due to the anesthesia, but they are very rare.  Most questions you have can be answered by the doctor or staff on hand. It is always beneficial to the patient and staff if the patient is well-prepared and knowledgeable of the proper directions for any operation. By doing this, the procedure runs more smoothly and allows the doctor and staff to complete the surgery as planned and allow for a quicker, more routine recovery for the patient.

    03 Nov
    03 Nov
  • New anesthesia and medical training techniques are regularly being created, however a recent study found that a familiar childrens toy can benefit doctors training: Legos. Anesthesiologists require high levels of accuracy, dexterity, and patience, and specific types of training help them practice these skills. Read more to learn how Lego building blocks help establish practice techniques for doctors in anesthesia. Researchers developed a task where people copied shapes using bricks that they could see in a two way mirror. This strange but useful tactic was used to train and help the doctors to maintain the patience and understanding of 2 and 3 dimensional objects. These objects were premade, giving the doctor a view of what the object had to look like. The doctor would then recreate the object to exactly match. Researchers asked the doctors to use Lego Duplo Building Bricks in a 2 way mirror recreating these objects until perfect. Making them train and recreate the objects gave them the practice needed to better their hand eye coordination and movement when going to inject the anesthesia. The Lego Bricks were a simple solution for training. They found this simple training improved student performance in an ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia task. “This research provides a simple and innovative solution to improving people’s spatial rotation and awareness. That is, to perform many modern medical technical skills a doctor has to understand how a two-dimensional image of an organ relates to the three-dimensional world inside the body.” Technology is rapidly changing for this anesthesia medical industry, allowing those to change and adapt to the new ways coming will bring costs down, innovation to grow and better research for future market growth. Within the simulations used for the research and practice, time was shaved off the doctors time making the process quicker and more efficient. This advancement and study shows the potential anesthesia has to grow and make better for hospitals, doctors, medical industry, and most importantly the safety of the patient.   https://www.anesthesiologynews.com/Policy-and-Management/Article/09-20/Lego-Training-Helps-Improve-Regionalists-Spatial-Manipulation/59524 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200721114720.htm

    08 Oct
    08 Oct
  • The market for anesthesia devices and drugs are expecting a huge increase in the next few years due to various drivers in the industry. Factors such as a growing population, anesthesia monitoring systems, and patient surgery volume. With these positive factors growing in the near future there are also some challenges this industry will face such as cost and side effects of the drugs issued to patients. There will be Market growth and decline during COVID-19 Pandemic which will cause us to see an increase in jobs requiring more anesthesiologists and technical build up for devices. The healthcare industry is consistent with being one of the most profitable industries in the market. There is a positive and negative view on this subject, regarding the market and growth of not only the industry but technology and research can have a large impact and will have a productive future within the industry in the next few years.  The pandemic caused by COVID-19 is advancing the growth of these devices and drugs being issued. Giving the market a full boost effect for the future and giving the market the ability to grow substantially. COVID-19 has and is continuing to anticipate the change in the healthcare industry in the future. The risk that COVID-19 has brought to people is extreme and has increased the care for people needing anesthesia. Decisions being made by professionals are vital because of COVID-19 and how it might affect or interfere with anesthesia during surgery. The general use of anesthesia may be affecting the timing and decisions making process during surgery for patients with COVID-19.  Anesthesia has its benefits and is a vital part to a surgery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are even more steps to the screening process and making sure the appropriate precautions are taken to ensure safety not only for the patient but for the staff on hand as well. Overall the pandemic has caused many issues for many people but is boosting and advancing the market growth for many industries and businesses within the health industry. Slowly but surely we will see a strong push for the healthcare industry including those advancements for the anesthesia industry.

    14 Sep
    14 Sep
  • When undergoing surgery, some patients may need to be put under anesthesia which can be scary to some. Patients may have general concerns with going under anesthesia and may also wonder if there are any long term effects. As for older patients (ages 70 and up) that need to be put under, some are concerned there may be a link between anesthesia and Alzheimer’s Disease. When a person has Alzheimer’s Disease, the outer layer of the cerebrum (Cortical), begins to thin which causes memory loss. The older we get, for some individuals memory begins to deteriorate quicker than others. A new study has shown that Anesthesia not linked to Alzheimer’s disease. According to the British Journal of Anesthesia, there is no link between the surgery with anesthesia and suffering from Alzheimer’s. Juraj Sprung, M.D., Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues assessed brain amyloid-β (Aβ) burden among older patients (aged 70 to 97 years) who underwent surgery with general anesthesia either after age 40 or within 20 years of neuroimaging. The results suggest that there was an association noted between exposure to surgery/general anesthesia and an increased likelihood of abnormal cortical thinning in those exposed after age 40 years and among those exposed in the prior 20 years. “This finding suggests that the modest cortical thinning associated with surgery/general anesthesia is not related to Alzheimer disease pathology, but rather is caused by other processes,” the authors write. Other exposure and processes have higher risk of Alzheimer’s such as environment, lifestyle and genetics. More common side effects you may experience after receiving anesthesia can include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, sore throat, muscle aches, itching, shivering, sleepiness. The likelihood of any Alzheimer’s spiking in an individual is not likely but can increase the process if the patient is genetically septiable to this disease.  In conclusion, the study shows anesthesia alone is not directly linked to the chances of getting Alzheimer’s Disease. Usually there are no side effects when under anesthesia, but depending on the individual age and prior lifestyle, some may suffer from different side effects. 

    27 Jul
    27 Jul
  • Anesthesia is a necessary part of the health system and is essential to perform many different types of surgeries today. Without it, some procedures could never happen, causing major health problems for many people. Anesthesia through the years has come a long way since it was first was traced back all the way to ancient times. Original anesthesia processes were performed using opium from poppy seeds which the Greek, Chinese, and Babylonians used in ancient times.  Moving forward to the mid-1800s soldiers and those needing a surgical procedure would have to take the pain, or use a form of Chloroform or Nitrous Oxide to help them get through the surgery. These methods led to more research and the development of more modern tools and practices.  Moving into the 1900s, new anesthesia methods and techniques were developed which brought us closer to what we use in medical facilities today. From oral, eye, internal or external procedures more methods became popular and became necessary to perform a procedure with a positive outcome. During the mid to late 1900s, muscle relaxants and the inhalation of the anesthetic started to be used in place of an injectant. In the late 1900s, a new machine was invented which diffused the liquid, creating a vapor which could be inhaled by the patient. Anesthesia through the years has improved and there has been an immense amount of research, making it easier to perform pain free surgical procedures. The three types of anesthesia used today are Local, General and Regional methods. The type of anesthesia you get will depend on the type of surgery and your medical condition. Whichever method or technique used, patients and surgeons can have peace of mind knowing the surgery will be pain free. 

    12 May
    12 May
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