Anesthesia: Problems and Solutions
Anesthesia, a term derived from the Greek language refers to the loss of sensation. When administered, anesthesia makes it possible to perform painful and invasive procedures on a patient with as little distress as possible. There are three types of anesthesia which include general, regional and local anesthesia. They differ depending on the area of administration on the body. In General anesthesia, sedation of the patient is done using gaseous substances or intravenous medication and often the muscles are paralyzed hence requiring the control of breathing by mechanical ventilation. In regional anesthesia, the drugs are administered around the spinal cord hence blocking the nerves in the area. When using this method, mechanical ventilation is not required. Finally, local anesthesia involves the application of an active substance on one particular area upon which a medical procedure is performed. The use of anesthesia is crucial for medical practice, but it has some problems. There are some complications that could arise from the application. The paper addresses several the health problems posed by anesthesia and investigates if there are some of the aspects of the concern that could be improved or need further research. Additionally, the paper will highlight on the consequences of not addressing the problem in due time.
Health Problems of Anesthesia
The figures of morbidity as a result of anesthesia are increasingly difficult to determine. Estimates show that up to 2% of the ICU admissions at any one time are problems associated with anesthesia (Association of Anesthetists of Great Britain & Ireland, 2010). Even though general anesthesia has its problems, it is indispensable as it helps in performing medical procedures in a humane manner without which the patient could die. On this basis, if the patient has high health associated with say general anesthesia, they must still be referred to surgery just like any other patient. The decision if to operate and the type of anesthesia utilized is made by the anesthetist and the surgeon. There are some health complications that arise due to the administration of anesthesia such as nausea and vomiting experienced by up to 30% of the patients. Other complications that could result are hypoxic brain damage, nerve injury, headache, cardiovascular collapse, hypothermia, respiratory depression or even death (Association of Anesthetists of Great Britain & Ireland, 2010). These problems are mainly associated with general anesthesia with the other types having reduced negative effects on the patient.
Some of the specific health complications that mainly associated with general anesthesia are aspiration pneumonitis, peripheral nerve damage, and embolism (Getz, 2016). In aspirational pneumonitis, anesthesia reduces the level of consciousness significantly leading to unprotected airways. If it so happened that the patient vomits, they could aspirate some of the vomit contents into their lungs. Patients are advised to avoid taking meals hours before an operation to reduce the risk of asphyxiation. All the three types of anesthesia may result in peripheral nerve damage especially the ulnar and peroneal nerve. Rarely, brachial plexus nerves might be affected. An embolism is rare but probable during the administration of anesthesia and is potentially fatal if it occurs. The air embolism happens during pelvic or neurosurgical procedures. Regional anesthesia health complications include urinary retention, anaphylaxis, anesthetic intoxication, direct nerve damage and hematoma. Finally, local anesthesia could cause infection, hematoma formation and bleeding, pain, nerve injury and ischemic necrosis (Myerson, 2015).
Improving and Preventing the Health Complication of Anesthesia.
Even though anesthesia still poses potential risks, there are some ways in which the problems could be prevented and therefore improving the general anesthesia health complications. For example, before the patient goes into operation, they could ask their doctors about the alternatives of general anesthesia such as having local or spinal anesthesia which pose less harmful effects compared to general anesthesia. More research should be conducted in identifying ways of ensuring anesthesia can be administered with minimal effects to the patient. Patients should also follow the instructions by the doctor about eating before a medical procedure is performed. For instance, the night before the surgery begins, most doctors inform their patients not to eat anything after midnight (Getz, 2016). For the patients, it is one of the vital instructions that must be followed as eating could cause the patient to vomit, and the contents sucked into their lungs during the operation after administration of anesthesia as earlier discussed. If these aspects are observed and measures to correct them adhered to, it could help in improving some of the health problems associated with anesthesia.
Significance of the Problem and Consequences of not addressing the Issue
The health concerns of anesthesia are vital to note and to find a method of preventing them for both the patients and the doctors. If doctors are aware of say some of the potential risks of general anesthesia, they could investigate the nature of the operation and try to figure out an alternative type of anesthesia in a case where general anesthesia could pose high health risks for their patients. Simple issues such as the patient not eating anything before a major operation, smoker quitting some days before the operation and overweight people losing some weight are matters that should be addressed and made clear to the patients. Failure to do this by the patient increases the potential risks to their health after the administration of anesthesia. Complications such as unwanted or unexpected events during the operation that happens in every one out of ten individuals could be prevented if doctors and patients practiced some of the important measures in preventing the problems (Patient, 2015).
Association of Anesthetists of Great Britain & Ireland. (2010, May). Clinical Management in Anaesthesia. Council of the AAGBI, 1-42. Retrieved August 25, 2016, from https://www.aagbi.org/sites/default/files/clinical_management_2010_0.pdf
Getz, L. (2016). Addressing Anesthesia Concerns. Retrieved August 25, 2016, from http://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/: http://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/news/ex_020110_01.shtml
Myerson, K. (2015, May 26). General anesthesia. Retrieved August 25, 2016, from http://www.nhs.uk/: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Anaesthetic-general/Pages/Definition.aspx
Patient . (2015). Anaesthesia Explained. Retrieved August 25, 2016, from http://patient.info/: http://patient.info/health/anaesthesia-explained
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