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Researchers seek people who have been aware during anaesthesia

By ANZCA

Researchers are seeking people who have been aware during anaesthesia to investigate whether there could be a genetic link to this uncommon experience.

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Awareness is a rare but sometimes distressing complication of general anaesthesia, occuring in about one in 1000 operations.

Patients who experience awareness may recall sounds or conversations, or report feeling the operation, during a time when they were supposed to be unconscious. They may feel afraid and helpless during the episode, and even suffer from psychological problems as a result.

While the most common cause of awareness is technical failure leading to an inadequate level of general anaesthesia, in about 10 per cent of cases of awareness during surgery, patients have had what would usually be regarded as adequate levels of anaesthetic drugs.

There are also patients who have experienced awareness more than once, or who have a family member who has experienced awareness.

This has led researchers from Australia and New Zealand to suggest a patient’s genetic make-up could make them more vulnerable to anaesthetic awareness.

Researchers from the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Royal Children’s Hospital and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, and the Waikato Hospital, New Zealand, are looking to interview 100 patients who have experienced awareness during apparently adequate general anaesthesia, and take a saliva sample, with the aim to identify specific areas of the genome that are different in patients who experience...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Source: ANZCA