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Anesthesia in early childhood not tied to developmental problems

November 5, 2018 | Reuters Health

Young children who had surgery under general anesthesia were no more likely than their siblings who weren’t exposed to anesthesia to experience developmental challenges that impair school readiness, a Canadian study found. Some previous studies suggest that the opposite might be true: that the developing brain might be injured by anesthesia drugs early in life, researchers note in JAMA Pediatrics. But much of that research has been based on studies in animals and in labs, not in children having surgery. For the current study, researchers examined data on almost 11,000 pairs of siblings, including about 370 pairs with both siblings exposed to surgery under general anesthesia and roughly 2,350 pairs with only one sibling with anesthesia exposure.

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Anesthesia, surgery linked to subtle decline in memory and thinking in older adults, Mayo study finds

July 19, 2018 | Mayo Clinic News Network

In adults over 70, exposure to general anesthesia and surgery is associated with a subtle decline in memory and thinking skills, according to new Mayo Clinic research. The study analyzed nearly 2,000 participants in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging and found that exposure to anesthesia after age 70 was linked to long-term changes in brain function. The results appear in the British Journal of Anaesthesia.

EDITOR'S NOTE: While the article carefully notes that "it is not possible to determine whether anesthesia, surgery or the underlying conditions necessitating surgery caused the decline," these findings add additional support to the notion that there are important opportunities for improvement in surgical and anesthesia care.

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Anaesthetics stop diverse plant organ movements, affect endocytic vesicle recycling and ROS homeostasis, and block action potentials in Venus flytraps

December 11, 2017 | Annals of Botany

From the paper's conclusion: "Plants are sensitive to several anaesthetics that have no structural similarities. As in animals and humans, anaesthetics used at appropriate concentrations block action potentials and immobilize organs via effects on action potentials, endocytic vesicle recycling and ROS homeostasis. Plants emerge as ideal model objects to study general questions related to anaesthesia, as well as to serve as a suitable test system for human anaesthesia."

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First study to measure the carbon footprint of surgery suggests where emissions reductions are possible

December 8, 2017 | Science Daily

Choice of anesthetic gas is thought to potentially be a significant contributor to emissions, particularly when desflurane is used instead of cheaper alternatives.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an enormously complicated subject that is oversimplified in this study. While we support (and in fact are developing) agents with less negative atmospheric impact, other alternatives to non-use are inexpensive and available, such as capture and landfill diversion. Our view is that the financial considerations associated with clinical decision making probably vastly outweigh the costs of non-use, and encourage the consideration of these types of questions to improve this type of research.

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