Patient Responses While Intubated
The British Journal of Anaesthesia reports a study, the largest of its kind, of 10 hospitals in the US, Australia, Germany, Israel, and other countries. Researchers determined that at least 5% of people under general anesthesia responded to commands and questions about their level of pain—called connected consciousness. None remembered the experience after their procedure. Of the 338 participants who completed the study, females responded to commands more than males, 13% vs 6%.
Coauthor Professor Robert Sanders, anesthetist, University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, said, “Patients expect to be unconscious under anaesthesia, and not be in pain, and this demonstrates why research into anaesthesia is so important. This research also highlights the need to better understand how different people respond to the anaesthesia medication. There is an urgent need for further research on the biological differences, particularly sex, that may influence sensitivity to anaesthetic medication.” The study concluded, “Connected consciousness occurred after intubation in 11% of young adults, with females at increased risk. Continuous exposure to anaesthesia between induction of anaesthesia and tracheal intubation should be considered to reduce the incidence of connected consciousness. Further research is required to understand sex-related differences in the risk of connected consciousness.”
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