Monday, January 10, 2005

Awareness under anesthesia

Last night I saw a special on Discovery Health about awareness under anesthesia. Awareness is when people can remember some or all of what happens during a surgery under general anesthesia... usually this in combination with being paralyzed so they are unable to tell anybody about it. i wonder how many people saw that special. I wonder if more people will be worried about it. I know it happens... it has never happened to me, as far as I know.I can't say it's because I'm a better anesthesiologist than anybody else. I think it's because I've been lucky.

Most awareness situations occur due to drug error, which is easy enough because of all the different medications that we use. I've made drug errors, anyone who says they haven't is a liar. luckily nothing serious or life threatening has happened because of this, and I try to be careful.

As for awareness, most times it happens in trauma situations and cardiac anesthesia. During traumas, people don't always get a complete anesthetic for the reason that people are worried about keeping them alive. I say that I'd rather have some awareness and be alive then the other way around. As for cardiac anesthesia, I should be worried about thi more since that's my speciality. I think this is a result of the historical perspective of cardiac anesthesia. We tend to now use a much different combination of drugs then we did just five, ten years ago so I think this is less of a problem.

Anyone out there concerned about awareness during anesthesia... it's a valid concern. Awareness is a rare occurrence but it does happen. Talk to your anesthesiologist before your surgery and let them know your concerns. If you have some awareness after your surgery, let your anesthesiologist know! If you don't remember who he or she was, make the department aware of your problem and they should be able to put you in touch with your anesthesiologist. Sweet dreams?!

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