A key advantage of inhaled anesthetics over intravenous sedation, which is the current approach in the ICU, is that inhaled anesthesia delivers and clears sedatives by way of the lungs, bypassing the metabolic and excretory systems. That's a critical factor, Fuhrman said, for patients who have sustained damage to their kidneys or livers, as a result of their illness.
When anesthesia is delivered through the lung, there is a much more rapid onset of effect and much quicker reversal once it is removed, an important consideration especially in patients who need to be frequently or abruptly awakened, such as children who have suffered trauma to the skull.
The invention addresses a problem common in ICU settings in which sedation must be deep enough that the patient is not aware of pain, but not so deep that it will cause withdrawal issues once the patient is no longer sedated.
"We administer significant amounts of narcotics and other agents to keep patients comfortable," explained Fuhrman. "But if we sedate them too well, we often face problems with withdrawal."
In those cases, patients can exhibit shakiness, combativeness and anxiety, symptoms that are then treated with methadone, usually requiring the patient to remain in the ICU for several more days.
By contrast, Fuhrman explained, patients in operating rooms are sedated using intravenous sedatives combined with precisely controlled concentrations of inhalation agents delivered by an expensive, specially designed anesthesia ventilator. An anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist then monitors and controls a patient's vital signs and depth of anesthesia on a moment-by-moment basis.
"It's that kind of contr
|Contact: Ellen Goldbaum|
University at Buffalo