The thought of heading to the doctor for a procedure that requires local anesthesia probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. However, imagine if you were going to feel everything that was happening during the procedure. Well for some, this horrible nightmare is a reality. In very rare cases, some individuals have a resistance to local anesthesia, and no matter the amount received, they can still feel pain. In a report from the BBC, a woman named Lori Lemon, discusses how since she was young she has always had to go to the dentist and other doctors expecting to endure pain. Even after crying out during dental procedures, doctors never took Lori seriously. She describes a visit to the dentist as a young child when her condition first became apparent, “They started working on me and I, being obedient, I just raised my hand and let ’em know, ‘I can feel this’,” she says. Another injection still proved that she had a resistance to local anesthesia. “Finally I just kind of screamed and was in tears the whole time.” When she recently visited the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville for a procedure to remove a lipoma from her elbow, an anesthesiologist noticed that none of their methods were working and knew something had to be wrong. Dr. Steven Clendenen, the anesthesiologist at the clinic, said “The nerves were flooded with local anaesthetic and at the time it didn’t work.” Clendenen decided to research this issue further and found that while there were other cases of this same problem, there was hardly any answers as to why patients had a resistance to local anesthesia. After finding out Lemon’s mother and maternal half-sister also suffer from a similar type of resistance to local anesthesia, he decided to do a genetic study on the family. Doctors discovered a genetic defect which was directly related to a specific sodium channel in the body, sodium 1.5. “We looked at the genetics of that and went, ‘wow’ – [her mother] had the same gene defect,” explains Clendenen. This genetic mutation is significant due to the theory that local anesthetics are successful due to the disruption of sodium channels. Since sodium 1.5 channels have mostly been studied in heart tissue, not the peripheral nerves where local anaesthetic is applied, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done. “This is really important to get that out there,” said Clendenen. “People don’t believe [these patients] and it’s very frustrating. Even some of my colleagues that I’ve talked to say, ‘I don’t believe it’.” For patients like Lori Lemon, however, this has put light on the issue and gives them some relief knowing there is work being done to figure out this problem. If you or a loved one is preparing for a procedure, click here to visit our anesthesia information page to learn more.
There is often still concern about the later effects anesthesia may have on a person, especially anesthesia on toddlers. There have been numerous small studies done analyzing the effects, if any, that may appear later in a patient’s life. Results of a recent study in Sweden, the largest of its kind, suggest anesthesia on toddlers carries no long term risks. Patients who have anesthesia before age 4 show little risks later in life, especially for intelligence. Overview of Anesthesia on Toddlers Study The results of this study were based on research done on 200,000 Swedish teenagers. 33,500 of these teenagers had been exposed to anesthesia before the age of 4 and nearly 160,000 of the teenagers had never been exposed to anesthesia. The school grades of the teenagers at age 16 were on average less than a half a percent lower in teenagers who had undergone a childhood surgery than the teens who had not had surgery. Among teenagers that had two or more surgeries, grades were less than two percent lower. IQ tests were also given to boys in the study who were 18 years of age. IQ scores were nearly the same among all tested. The leader of this study, Dr. Pia Glatz from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, as well as other researches mentioned that other factors, a Mother’s education level for example, pose more of a risk on intelligence than administering anesthesia on toddlers. Among those studied, the most common surgeries the teenagers had received as children were hernia repairs, abdominal procedures, and ear, nose, or throat operations. These surgeries likely caused the children to be under anesthesia for about an hour or less. Researchers involved in the study as well as other physicians find the results of this study reassuring, and believe parents need to consider the harm of postponing surgery more than future risks for intelligence and academics later in life. A journal editorial says the study is “reassuring for children, parents and caregivers and puts the issue of anesthetic-related neurotoxicity and the developing brain into perspective.” While this study is still ongoing, it can put parents and caregivers at ease knowing that this study shows anesthesia on toddlers carries no long term risks. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about anesthesia before a procedure, take a look at our surgery patient FAQ page.
It is pretty fair to say that no one really enjoys getting a cavity filled or going under anesthesia because of a painful surgery, it’s just something we have to do. Although it isn’t fun for anyone, redheads may dread a trip to the dentist’s office a bit more than the average person, and for good reason. Over the years, many have said that a patient’s natural hair color may have an impact on anesthesia efforts. But do redheads really require more anesthesia? Recent studies have been done that show people with naturally red hair often require a higher dosage of anesthesia, and are sometimes resistant to pain blockers, such as novocaine, than their brunette or blonde counterparts. Making up only 1-2% of the population worldwide, the genetics of a redhead are what makes them such a rarity. Researchers believe a mutation of the gene that causes people to have red hair and fair skin, also has an effect on a person’s sensitivity to pain. The Mc1R gene, which affects hair color, produces melanin in people with blond, black, or brown hair, but a mutation causes it to produce pheomelanin in redheads. This gene is a part of a family of receptors in the brain that include pain receptors, which may be why it affects a redheads tolerance of pain. Dr. Daniel I. Sessler, an anesthesiologist and chairman of the department of outcomes research at the Cleveland Clinic, said he started studying hair color after hearing many colleagues discuss redheads needing more anesthesia than patients with different hair colors. “The reason we studied redheads in the beginning, it was essentially an urban legend in the anesthesia community saying redheads were difficult to anesthetize,” Dr. Sessler said. “This was so intriguing we went ahead and studied it. Redheads really do require more anesthesia, and by a clinically important amount.” Researchers believe patients with red hair require about 20% more general anesthesia than the average person, which proves that redheads being harder to anesthetize was not just a myth in the medical community. Another study in 2005, proved that redheads are more resistant to the effects of local anesthesia, such as the numbing drugs that are often used by dentists. It is possible that people with dark skin, eyes, and hair may produce more melanin than normal and in turn will also require more anesthesia. So the next time you hear your redheaded friend complaining about a routine trip to the dentist, you’ll know why!
Each year, millions of Americans safely and successfully undergo procedures while under a form of anesthesia. While it is extremely common to require anesthesia for a surgery, most patients don’t really know much about the anesthetic itself. As we approach the 170th anniversary of the first successful use of a form of anesthesia, here are four interesting facts about anesthesia you may not have known. Before Anesthesia, Patients were Told to “Bite the bullet.” This popular phrase has meaning that dates back to a time before there was anesthesia. A wounded patient, often a soldier, would be told to “bite the bullet” while enduring painful surgery without anesthetic. Aside from bullets, patients were often given sticks, leather straps, and other objects to clench between their jaw during painful procedures. As you can imagine, this was not a very good alternative to anesthesia, and we are very thankful so much has changed! Anesthesia Causes Temporary Amnesia Anesthesia activates memory-loss receptors in the brain, which ensures the patient has no memory of the surgery. Some look at the effects of anesthesia as just being “put to sleep”, but this really is not the case considering if it was just sleep, the patient would be awakened by the extreme pain their body is experiencing. The effects of anesthesia can be more closely related to a reversible coma than to a deep sleep. Smokers May Need Higher Doses of Anesthesia than Nonsmokers Smokers, as well as people who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, may require more anesthesia than the average non-smoker. A study monitored a group of women all undergoing the same surgery. The results of the study showed the women who were smokers required 33% more anesthesia, and women exposed to secondhand smoke required 20% more. John Reynolds, MD, an associate professor at Wake Forest University, says smokers have irritated airways, and as a result, they may need higher doses of pain medication to improve their tolerance with the breathing tubes. Redheads May Sometimes Require More Anesthesia Due to a gene that causes their red hair, redheads sometimes require 20% more anesthesia than the average patient. This gene is known as the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) and responsible for the bodies pigment. The MC1R gene is also connected to hormones that stimulate pain receptors in the brain. The gene can sometimes overproduce a pain-related hormone, which may make redheads more sensitive to pain, in turn causing them to require more anesthesia. While anesthesia has been around for some time and has become extremely common in the world of medicine, there is still a lot of interesting facts about anesthesia that many people do not know. We hope you enjoyed learning some interesting facts about anesthesia and, if it peaked your curiosity in learning more about anesthesia, CLICK HERE for some Frequently Asked Questions and Answers from Steel City Anesthesia.
Viral videos are constantly popping up, and it seems like every week there is a new video circulating the internet. Many times, anesthesia is the source of the hilarity in these viral sensations. We’ve all seen videos of patients waking up after a procedure, saying outlandish things while their family members get it all on film. Who can forget the girl who took a ride on a unicorn? One of the first, with 1.3 million views on YouTube, is the little boy who became known as “David After the Dentist”. The adorable little boy keeps asking “Is this real life?”, and telling his Father “I feel funny!”. While it is obviously the anesthesia that makes the stars of these videos say some interesting things, many people wonder what exactly the anesthesia does to put patients in this confused state of mind. Anesthesia affects all patients differently, and often times it causes them to say strange things and act differently than they normally would. The word anesthesia is derived from greek and actually means “loss of sensation”. It is administered to patients to relieve pain, paralyze muscles, and encourage amnesia so the patient undergoing the surgery has no memory of the procedure. Anesthesia temporarily disrupts normal brain function, which may be why many patients wake up feeling scared, anxious, or saying funny things they would not normally say. The effects are often compared to a very deep sleep, however, the effects of anesthesia are more closely related to a reversible coma. The dosage of anesthesia given to a person is very carefully controlled. The process is closely monitored by highly skilled professionals like the medical professionals at Steel City Anesthesia. We can confidently say the patients will be in great hands during the procedure, but if they wake up saying hilarious things, we can’t guarantee their family and loved ones won’t have their cameras ready! For more information or questions about what you or a loved one might experience with anesthesia, CLICK HERE for some Frequently Asked Questions and Answers from Steel City Anesthesia.