Isoflurane and Nerve Communication in Anesthesia

Anesthesia pic

Anesthesia
Image: health.harvard.edu

A board-certified anesthesiologist, Dr. Brian Klagges cares for patients at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire. Dr. Brian Klagges also practices with Amoskeag Anesthesia, providing general as well as local and regional anesthesia.

General anesthesia is an extremely complex process. A combination of drugs renders a patient unconscious and insensible to pain, while his or her body continues to function at a basic physiological level. How this works remains largely unknown to medical science, although current research is beginning to solve a few of anesthesia’s cellular mysteries.

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, for example, recently identified the key function of the commonly used inhaled anesthetic isoflurane. Building on the established knowledge that the drug interrupts cellular communication in the brain, scientists have found that this occurs due to the reduction of calcium ion flow into cells. Calcium ions allow cells to release the neurotransmitters that enable communication, the absence of which prompts the reduced consciousness and pain response in anesthetized individuals. Researcher Dr. Hugh Hemmings, Jr., and his team hope that this discovery may help developers to maximize anesthetic effectiveness and minimize side effects.

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