Archive Anesthesia 2018

Time to Upgrade Your Anesthesia Machines?

The newest models help providers deliver inhalational agents safely, precisely and economically.

Christine Whitten

Christine Whitten, MD


BREATHE EASY Christine Whitten, MD, says the latest anesthesia machines can pave the way for quicker cases and faster patient recoveries — but also make the art of inhalational anesthesia obsolete.

Today's anesthesia machines are a whir of respiration readings, gas flow displays and inspired oxygen feedback, but the high-tech bells and electronic whistles are more function than form. The latest workstations can help anesthesia providers administer exact amounts of inhalational agents based on an individual patient's needs. That light touch means patients aren't sedated as deeply as they were in the past, so they emerge faster and are street ready sooner. If you rely on your providers to streamline cases safely and economically, they'll need to be sitting next to an anesthesia machine with these key features.

1. Increased safety

Newer anesthesia machines run through a series of automated checks in less than 5 minutes to ensure that internal circuitry is functioning properly, that there aren't leaks within the system and that the ventilator functions optimally. Performing the checks manually on older machines was time-consuming. Providers would be tempted to skip the detailed check and simply pressurize the circuit to ensure there wasn't a major leak in the breathing bag. Now providers can prepare their workspace for the next case while the machine performs the entire automated safety check.

Some machines let providers toggle between direct flow and total flow of oxygen, plus other carrier gases, which is especially helpful when a specific fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) is required. For example, when the risk of a surgical fire is heightened, FiO2 is usually limited to no more than 30%. With older machines, unless one did the math, achieving 30% often took several minutes of juggling the oxygen/air ratios until the correct value appeared. By switching to total flow control, the provider can simply dial in an FiO2 of 30%, at whatever total flow is desired, and the concentration delivered by the machine changes with the patient's next breath.

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