Waking Up After Anesthesia -- Research Summary
WAKING UP AFTER SURGERY: Anesthesia can stay in the body for up to 24 hours after it's administered. A patient will not be back to himself or herself until the anesthetic is completely eliminated from the body. Several studies have suggested women recover from anesthesia much more quickly than men. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists advises patients to stay away from the following until anesthesia wears off: driving a car, operating complex equipment, signing any legal documents, taking medications other than those prescribed by or talked about with your physician, and drinking alcohol. They also say it's important to arrange for someone to care for your small children while the anesthesia is still in your body, take liquids first and slowly progress to a light first meal, and remain quietly at home for 24 hours.
ANESTHESIA AND SLEEP APNEA: Research shows anesthesia is more dangerous for those with sleep apnea. This is because general anesthesia suppresses the activity of muscles in the upper airway, increasing the number of episodes of airway obstruction characteristic of sleep apnea. Anesthesia also decreases the ability of a person to wake up when an apnea episode takes place. Because of these risks, sleep apnea patients generally have to remain under the watchful eye of medical personnel longer after surgery than patients without the condition.
AN ANTI-ANESTHESIA MACHINE: A new device is shortening the amount of time it takes to recover from anesthesia. The QED-100 is a small plastic device that removes anesthetic from the body faster than normal. It works by encouraging hyperventilation, or overbreathing, and allowing a patient to re-breathe their own carbon dioxide. The overbreathing clears anesthetic from the blood through the lungs and the increased carbon dioxide encourages blood flow to remove anesthetic from the brain. "The only way that those anesthetics can get out of your body is by you breathing," Derek Sakata, Director of Anesthesia at the John A. Moran Eye Hospital at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Director of Medical Affairs for Anecare, which manufactures the QED-100. "You need the anesthetics to go from the brain to the blood and from the blood to the lungs, and back out." The device also absorbs discarded anesthetic to keep it from re-entering the patient's body. The QED-100 is attached to a ventilation machine and works with most standard models. It was approved by the FDA in 2005. The device carries a small risk of hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, and if it is activated too early, a patient can emerge from anesthesia during surgery.
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