Living in the United States, access to electricity is something we take for granted. If you’re going to a hospital in the US, you never have to worry about the electricity cutting off for hours at a time without warning. Unfortunately, for many people in other parts of the world, electricity is limited and often very unreliable. To have brownouts and power spikes is a regular occurrence and happens often over the course of a day, which is why battery powered anesthesia machines are saving lives. This is a huge issue for hospitals in rural parts of the developing world. These power outages force surgeons to postpone and hold off on operations, which often costs patients their life. But battery powered anesthesia machines are changing all of that. A nonprofit medical device company, Gradian Health Systems, has developed a groundbreaking device called the Universal Anesthesia Machine, or UAM, which are battery powered anesthesia machines in which workers in countries such as Malawi, SIerra Leone, and Zambia can administer anesthesia without electricity. This device can be a huge factor in saving the lives of many patients around the world. “We knew that the need was insatiable, frankly, given the number of hospitals and the number of countries that experience these challenges,” said Erica Frenkel, cofounder and COO of Gradian Health Systems. “We have a pretty good shot here at making a big dent in what is otherwise a really challenging issue.” Besides usually requiring electricity, medical grade pure oxygen is also needed to deliver anesthesia to patients. In U.S. hospitals, pure oxygen is manufactured on-site, but in hospitals in the developing world, this is not possible. The UAM are not only battery powered anesthesia machines, but they also can solve the problem for hospitals needing pure oxygen. The machine uses an integrated oxygen concentrator, that allows the machine to generate its own oxygen. When cylinder, pipeline, or portable oxygen is available, the machine can use it, but the UAM automatically draws in room air as the “carrier gas” to create pure medical-grade oxygen suitable for delivering anesthesia. The Universal Anesthesia Machine can operate for up to six hours using a rechargeable energy, meaning doctors won’t have to postpone surgery if the electricity goes out, saving the lives of patients. Gradian’s mission is to not only train people how to use the machine, but also how to fix it. A power outage during surgery is something, as Americans, we are blessed to not have to worry about. These battery powered anesthesia machines can ease the minds of doctors operating on patients in developing countries. It will give them peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong, there is a machine that will provide backup. To see Erica Frenkel’s TED talk on the Universal Anesthesia Machine, CLICK HERE.
Researchers in the past have been concerned of the effects of Anesthesia during youth oral cleft surgery, worrying it would cause cognitive impairment later in life. This has caused a great deal of worry and anxiety for many parents. Oral cleft surgeries in particular were thought of to have the highest risk, due to how early they are performed in a child’s life. Some studies have shown that children that undergo surgery from an oral cleft often experience cognitive dysfunction, and face many academic challenges. While some thought this may be linked to anesthesia at such a young age, a recent study has proven this to be untrue. Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark and the University of Iowa have recently published results of a study examining the theory that there is no connection between anesthesia exposure and cognitive impairment. Researchers studied a group of 558 teenagers who had undergone surgery for cleft lip, cleft palate, or both at a young age. Research showed that 509 of the oral cleft children had undergone at least one cleft operation and were exposed to an anesthetic. Results of the study done on the adolescents that underwent cleft surgery were compared to a control group. Although these teenagers in the study were exposed to anesthesia at a very young age, researchers found no significant difference in the teens that underwent cleft lip surgery, cleft palate surgery, or both, and the teenagers in the control group. Leading researchers to believe there is no link or negative effects of anesthesia during youth oral cleft surgery. One difference they did find was that adolescents that had only had cleft palate surgery did have lower test scores than those in the control group, but their surgeries were generally performed later than children with other types of clefts. “This finding is remarkable,” said Dr. Nicola Clausen of the research group. “Studies like the present one cannot definitely prove that anesthetic drugs do not harm developing brains. However, it can put the potential threats into perspective because other factors more importantly impact these children’s neurocognitive development.” While there is still research being done on the effects of anesthesia during youth oral cleft surgery, studies like this can give parents of children needing these surgeries some piece of mind before their child is put under anesthesia. If you or someone you know is preparing for a procedure requiring anesthesia, click here to visit our anesthesia information page to find out more.
While it is no surprise that children of all ages enjoy animated movies and TV shows like Disney’s Cars, Spongebob Squarepants, and Despicable Me, watching these types of movies may replace general anesthesia for kids with cancer, according to a recent study. Research presented at the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology 36 (i.e. “ESTRO”) conference, showed results of a study involving 12 children between the ages of 18 months and 6 years receiving radiation treatment for different types of cancer. While cancer in children is relatively rare, with about 215,000 new cases each year, about a sixth of those children require treatment with radiotherapy. During these treatments, children are required to remain motionless, which is often a challenge, as any parent will tell you who’s had to give their kids medicine, let alone administering radiation treatment. General anesthesia is used to keep the children still, which can be costly and requires the children to fast for at least 6 hours before the treatment. While this can be challenging, watching movies may replace general anesthesia for kids with cancer as it has some of the same side effects needed to administer the treatment. Catia Aguas, a radiation therapist and dosimetrist at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc, Brussels, Belgium, says “We wanted to see if installing a projector and letting children watch a video of their choice would allow them to keep still enough that we would not need to give them anesthesia.” In the study, six of the children received treatment before a video projector was installed and six children received treatment while watching their favorite movie. Before the video was available, general anesthesia was needed for 83% of the treatments, and after projector was installed, anesthesia was needed in only 33% of treatments. “Radiotherapy can be very scary for children. It’s a huge room full of machines and strange noises, and the worst part is that they’re in the room alone during their treatment. Before their radiotherapy treatment, they have already been through a series of tests and treatments, some of them painful, so when they arrive for radiotherapy they don’t really feel very safe or confident. Since we started using videos, children are a lot less anxious. Now they know that they’re going to watch a movie of their choice, they’re more relaxed and once the movie starts it’s as though they travel to another world.” said Aguas. President of ESTRO, Professor Yolande Lievens, head of the department of radiation oncology at Ghent University Hospital, Belgium, said: “The success of this project is good news for young patients, their families and their medical teams. Simply by installing a projector and showing videos, the team have reduced the need for anesthesia and reduced anxiety for these children. For parents this means they no longer have to watch their child going under a general anesthetic and then into the recovery room after treatment every day for weeks on end. In addition, the use of videos had a positive impact on the workflow in paediatric radiotherapy, which further increased the positive effect observed by the caregivers as well.” Watching movies may replace general anesthesia for kids with cancer, and could be used for adults as well. Researchers are continuing with this study and plan to include adults who may be claustrophobic or anxious about their treatments. While these children still did require some anesthesia, the amount was less which can ease the minds of parents and caregivers. If you or a loved one is preparing for a procedure, click here to visit our anesthesia information page to learn more.
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.
New laws and changes in legislature are common and affect many different things, including the world of healthcare. Medical professionals are required to make changes and adapt as needed to make sure they are following the laws and guidelines. Recently, a new law in Utah has passed that is causing conflict between medical professionals and the government. The bill, recently signed, is the first of its kind. This new law requires anesthesia for abortions past 20 weeks to be administered by doctors to patients to eliminate pain for the fetus. Whether or not a fetus can feel pain at that state remains to be a controversial topic, and many doctors and medical professionals have varying opinions. “If a child can experience pain, we have an obligation to protect that child,” said Republican state Sen. Curt Bramble, who sponsored the law. Bramble originally hoped to ban all abortions after 20 weeks but abandoned the idea after legislative attorneys warned him it would likely be unconstitutional. Many agree that the fetus will feel some degree of pain and hope that this law will change that while protecting the fetus. While many support this law, many doctors disagree and are fighting back. Doctors are uniting across the country and are concerned if a law requires anesthesia for abortions, the use of anesthesia or painkillers may increase health risks for women by giving them heavy sedation. Some believe it is unnecessary and not healthy for the woman. Dr. Leah Torres, a Salt Lake City obstetrician-gynecologist claims to be confused by the law and says “I have no choice but to cross my fingers and hope that what I’m doing already is in compliance, because I don’t know what they’re talking about,” With the subject of fetal pain still being a very controversial topic, people can argue which side is right and wrong. Regardless of what a doctor or medical professional may believe, the bill passed and changes will now have to be made as this law requires anesthesia for abortions. With further research and tests, hopefully more information will be available on this controversial and important topic.
In a previous blog post, the idea of machines taking over the job of an anesthesiologist was discussed. Although we believed this was far off, a few new machines were beginning to gain popularity in the medical world. Just recently, however, sales of the Sedasy machine, made by Johnson & Johnson, have been stopped. Johnson & Johnson says halted sales are due to poor sales and cost cuts within the company which means the concept of facilities using machines over anesthesiologists is still far off. To refresh your memory, the most popular of these devices is called Sedasys, an open-loop system that can administer the initial dose of anesthesia a patient needs, favoring machines over anesthesiologists. The machine was developed to be used for patients undergoing endoscopies and colonoscopies. The dosage of medicine is predetermined by the patient’s weight and age, and the machine can reduce or stop drug delivery depending on the patient’s condition. The machine, however, cannot decide alone how much anesthesia the patient needs, and the dosage can only be increased by the doctor or nurse that is monitoring in case of emergencies. This more conservative approach is what offered comfort to regulators and helped win the approval of the FDA. Johnson & Johnson believed, at first, that the Sedasys system would be a cost efficient way to administer anesthesia, but the machine was quickly fought against by many medical professionals, especially anesthesiologists. Many were concerned that choosing machines over anesthesiologists would begin a less humanistic approach, which many people did not like. Safety concerns were also an issue. “While the Sedasys System can safely administer sedation for healthy patients undergoing the procedures mentioned, emergencies can and do occur, even during the simplest procedures and with the healthiest patients,” Jeffrey Apfelbaum, co-chair of the ASA committee on the Sedasys machine, said in a 2015 interview with Medscape. “Additionally, many have concerns for the safety of patients if device operators do not remain in strict compliance with the limitations imposed by the FDA on the use of the device.” While choosing the Sedasys machine over anesthesiologists is no longer an option as they are no longer being produced or sold, there are still others on the market, and new machines may begin to pop up. However, it still seems that something like this will never be accepted universally by medical professionals. As the fastest growing Anesthesia Management Solution in the midwest, Steel City Anesthesia offers more than just anesthesia services. We strive to provide exceptional patient satisfaction and meet anesthesia needs with a personal touch that will never be able to be replaced by a machine.
While surgery is very common, patients sometimes fear that they will experience some type of future impairment because of an operation. Many elderly patients may even opt out of having a procedure that will give them a better quality of life because they are worried having surgery that requires anesthesia may lead to cognition impairment. A new study, however, hopes to prove just the opposite. Cognitive Test Results of Twins The University of Southern Denmark has recently released results from their study that examined a total of 8503 twins. Of these twins, 4299 were under the age of 70 and the remaining 4204 were over the age of 70. Cognitive tests of twins that had undergone surgery requiring anesthesia within the past 18-24 years were compared to test results of twins who had not had any type of surgical procedure. Results showed that twins who had undergone surgery in recent years had slightly lower scores on cognitive tests, however, researchers stated that the differences were not statistically significant. Unni Dokkedal, from The University of Southern Denmark, said, “Our use of twins in the study provides a powerful approach to detect subtle effects of surgery and anesthesia on cognitive functioning by minimizing the risk that the true effects of surgery and anesthesia are mixed up with other environmental and genetic factors. We found no significant cognitive effects related to surgery and anesthesia in these patients, suggesting that other factors, such as preoperative cognitive levels and underlying diseases, are more important to cognitive functioning in aging patients following surgery.” All Part of the Postoperative Puzzle Postoperative cognitive dysfunction is normal for a short time after a surgery, but this study shows receiving anesthesia alone does not cause cognitive impairment. This leads researchers to focus on other factors that may play a role in postoperative cognitive impairment. A researcher from the study said, “This research has the potential to become a key piece of this very complex research puzzle.” Researchers believe this information will especially help older patients when faced with the decision of having an operation with anesthesia. Although there may be other factors that cause a person to have some cognitive issues after an operation, patients can have some peace of mind knowing it will not be caused by anesthesia.
Although the development of anesthesia took place in the 1840’s, surgery was still not regularly performed due to fear of infection and other complications. That was until the Civil War started in 1861, which caused the number of necessary operations to drastically increase. According to an article in the newsletter of the American Society of Anesthesiologists by Maurice S. Albin, M.D., “The sheer magnitude of battlefield injuries during the conflict played a major role in establishing the regular use of anesthesia.” The need for surgery was greater than ever before, which gave physicians no choice but to use anesthesia to operate. Methods Prior to Anesthesia Prior to the the war, patients may have been given something to bite on, alcohol, opioid drugs, or put in physical restraints to keep them under control during surgery. According to Albin, “It was thought to be unmanly for a male to undergo surgery with an anesthetic, which was usually reserved for women and children. There was even a belief that the use of ‘cold steel’ had a beneficial effect, and it would not cause the depression thought to occur with the use of anesthesia.” “Real Men” Don’t Need Anesthesia The idea of anesthesia being “unmanly”, quickly shifted as the war progressed and the number of injuries rapidly increased. It became a necessity in battlefield hospitals, and is believed that there were around 120,000 uses of anesthetic agents by surgeons on both sides during the battle. Anesthesia on the Fly At the time of the Civil War, many surgeons and physicians had little no experience with using an anesthetic during operations. They were forced to rely on manuals which gave them instructions on how to properly use anesthetics such as ether and chloroform. Although many doctors lacked experience with these agents, mortality rates associated with the use of an anesthetic were surprisingly low. Albin stated, “After the termination of this horrendous conflict, these doctors would return to their practices, hospitals and medical schools, all the richer for being exposed to this unique American contribution to the life-easing quality of mercy — the discovery of anesthesia.” Physicians benefited from learning firsthand the techniques and uses of anesthetics, and many lives of wounded soldiers were saved as a result. Today, millions of people undergo anesthesia each year in the United States alone, and it has become extremely common. Although anesthesia has developed and changed over the years, its regular use was established during the time of the Civil War.
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