Device minimizes effects of anesthesia

By By Michael McFall

By Michael McFall

As a patient stares at the ceiling with impaired vision, the doctors work around her, prepping her for surgery on both of her eyes.

“Think happy thoughts,” Patricia Schane says gently, as the anesthesia starts to lull the 38-year-old patient to sleep. Schane, a certified nurse, has an air bag in her hand to help their chemically paralyzed ward breathe during the surgery.

As her world starts to go black, the sounds of the room fade away-the beeps, the breathing and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” playing on the stereo. Dr. Derek Sakata, with his latest invention in hand, tells the patient that they’re going to take good care of her.

Marley echoes that. “Don’t you worry about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing’s gonna be alright!”

With that, she’s asleep.

When she wakes in an hour in the John A. Moran Eye Center, she would have expected to be nauseous for several hours from the anesthesia. During surgery, doctors have to pull at her eyeball to correct her vision, which is a nauseating experience. The anesthesia would also leave her groggy and disoriented, among other lingering side effects.

Now, thanks to a tube on a box, patients can avoid the discomfort.

U doctors, including Sakata, Joseph Orr and Dwayne Westenskow invented the QED-100, a looping, plastic tube attached to the back of a little white box, helping patients feel better sooner after surgery.

“There was a patient who had been under before and felt like she had lost a whole day,” said Sakata, an assistant professor of anesthesiology. “Now she was up after an hour and a half, interacting with her 3-year-old child.”

When doctors are ready to wake up their patient, they attach the QED-100 to the breathing tube and the patient continues to breathe into the box. Their exhaled gases, including the anesthetic, travel into the tube. Sakata traces the path of the gases through the loop of the two-foot tube with his finger, explaining that the anesthetic gets trapped inside the tube, while the normal gases such as carbon dioxide are inhaled back by the patient, drug free.

When the patient wakes up, there are almost no side effects from the anesthesia, said Orr, a research professor of anesthesiology. When patients are able to be awake and alert sooner after surgery, they can better collaborate with the doctors about assessing and managing their pain, he said.

Also, when patients spend less time with the breathing tube, possible risks related to the tube, such as asthma attacks, are less likely to occur.

When patients wake up, they don’t have to worry about the anesthesia lingering inside their body longer than it should. The device eliminates most, if not all, of the drug from their body to prevent unfortunate side effects such as enhanced pain sensitivity.

The QED-100 is now used at all of the U’s medical buildings, as well as in hospitals around the country, including Yale, Duke and the University of San Francisco. Nationwide, the device has been used on more than 5,000 patients who inhaled anesthesia for a medical procedure.

The side effects of injected anesthesia already have their solutions, but inhaled anesthesia was still missing its easy fix, Orr said.

“That missing link has been filled,” he said, motioning to the tube on a box in Sakata’s hands.

Research for the device began in 2003. A year later, Sakata and Orr co-founded Anecare, a company that produces the QED-100.

In March of this year, the device was selected as the top medical device innovation at the 2008 Utah Innovation Awards.

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Anna Kartashova

Steve Svenson, circulating nurse, and Peter Osei-Bonsu, visiting ophthalmologist from Ghana, prepare a patient for surgery using a rapid anesthesia recovery device called QED-100.