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3 U. experts invent a device to speed anesthesia recovery

SHARE 3 U. experts invent a device to speed anesthesia recovery

A trio of University of Utah anesthesiology experts invented a device that "turbocharges" the body's ability to clear out inhaled anesthesia. And that makes patients feel alert faster, while reducing the risk of complications.

Dwayne R. Westenskow, Ph.D., professor of anesthesiology, Dr. Derek J. Sakata, assistant professor of anesthesiology and Joseph A. Orr, Ph.D., research assistant professor of anesthesiology, formed a company called Anecare to market the QED-100, which won Food and Drug Administration approval and has now been used on more than 5,000 patients nationwide. In March, it received a 2008 Utah Innovation Award in the medical device category.

Traditionally, "coming out" of anesthesia that used inhaled gases involves waiting for the effects to wear off on their own. The trio found a way to remove inhaled anesthetic, using a patients's own carbon dioxide.

It's a counter-intuitive process because hyperventilation is used to clear anesthesia from the blood in the lungs. But normally, when someone hyperventilates, carbon dioxide levels drop and that slows down blood flow to the brain. To bring someone out of anesthetic faster, you want hyperventilation to clear the lungs, but you also want to keep CO2 levels up. And the QED-100 does just that, using the patient's own CO2. The simple device is approved for three commonly used inhaled anesthetics. It does not work with nitrous oxide.

Among complications of being "under" anesthetic is the risk of suffering reflux and choking, inhaling secretions, and obstruction in patients who have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, among others. Bringing the patient out of anesthesia sooner reduces those risks.

QED-100 is a simple, compact device that works with most standard ventilation machines and basically allows a patient to rebreathe CO2 and filter out anesthetics at the same time, Sakata said. It actually changes how the anesthetics work.

"Our hope is to see patients do better," said Sakata, medical director of Anecare. "We see them in recovery and they're out of it. It's nice to get them up and going."

E-mail: lois@desnews.com