Side Effects of Gases used for General Anesthesia

Those that have underwent surgery or some potentially painful procedure would have to be placed under a general anesthetic. When under anesthesia, you are not awake or conscious enough to know what the doctors and nurses are doing to you. While under anesthesia, things can and will possibly go wrong. One such example something going wrong would be the side effects of the different gases used for placing patients under anesthesia. According to an answer on WikiAnswers, the most widely used gases for administering anesthesia to a patient are desflurane, sevoflurane, and/or isoflurane combined with nitrous oxide. The least widely used gases are haloflurane, enflurane, and methoxyflurine. The first four are the currently used gases. There is the possibility of implementing xenon gas in the future. Xenon gas is known as one of the four noble gases; also, it is known as one of the rarest and heaviest gases to exist on Earth.

Desflurane, which is starting to replace the use of isoflurane, could cause the patient to go through tachycardia in which the heart beats at a speed that exceeds the normal range of a resting heart. This could be potentially dangerous. Also, this type of gas could also irritate the airway passage of the patient. As another critical side effect, desflurane is a greenhouse gas. Keep in mind that the issue of global warming is an ongoing hot button debate.

Isoflurane, for its side effects, is starting to be transitioned out of use. The first major side effect of using isoflurane is neurodegeneration in infants. The second major side effect of using isoflurane is the postoperative cognitive decline in the elderly. In short, the use of isoflurane produced mental side effects to both infants and elderly.

Sevoflurane, like desflurane, is a greenhouse gas. In application, as an anesthetic, it is believed that sevoflurane caused a mental degeneration in mice. However, the study is still ongoing.

Nitrous oxide, as a side effect, produces neurotoxins in the form of Olney’s lesions. However, that has been produced in rodents after they were exposed to N2O. It is widely believed that as a side effect of N20, as an anesthetic, brain injury could occur. However, data gathering on the issue is impossible for the most part.

The four currently popular anesthetic gases, while having their own side effects, share a similar pattern in effects to the brain in regards to three of them. Also, two of the gases are known greenhouse gases for those interested in the debate on global warming.