Anesthesia works in Antarctica

New research presented at this year's Euroanaesthesia congress (the annual meeting of the European Society of Anaesthesiology) in Vienna, Austria (1-3 June) shows that commonly used anaesthetic drugs still work, even after exposure to the extreme environmental conditions of the Antarctic. The study was conducted by Professor Major Ricardo Navarro-Suay of Hospital Central de la Defensa "Gómez Ulla", Madrid, Spain (who serves in the Spanish Armed Forces) and colleagues.

Anaesthetists can find themselves working in a wide range of situations and challenging conditions where the supply of medicines can be interrupted or drug efficacy could be altered by environmental factors. This can introduce uncertainties into planning how anaesthetics will be used during a procedure, which in turn can impact .

The authors studied the effects of exposing four commonly used drugs (fentanyl citrate, etomidate, rocuronium bromide and suxamethonium chloride) to Antarctic weather conditions to determine whether these compounds could be safely and reliably used in such environments.

To evaluate the impact of on anaesthetic drugs, the four selected drugs were subjected to the extreme polar climate of Deception Island in Antarctica, with vials of each drug left outside in clear plastic bags (see poster) but nothing to protect them from the bitterly cold conditions.

Measurements were taken of the maximum and minimum values of; daily temperature, , atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, amount of sunlight, rain, and solar radiation. Drug vials were then examined at 24, 48, and 72 hours for damage to the container itself, any changes or deterioration of the medicine inside, and a detailed chemical analysis was performed to measure any loss of potency of the compounds using high resolution liquid chromatography.

The team found that despite being exposed to Antarctic conditions for up to 72 hours, the drugs were well within the allowed margins of security (99-110%). To explain further how a result of 110% could be achieved, Major Navarro-Suay says: "Sometimes a drug can be changed or improved with , like light or cold. The administration security interval is from 95 to 110% so these results show we could employ these drugs safely to patients under the extreme conditions like the polar weather found in Antarctica."

He concludes: "This chemical analysis shows that using the common anaesthetic drugs fentanyl, etomidate, rocuronium bromide and suxamethonium chloride appears safe even in this extreme environment in Antarctica."


Explore further

Antarctic snowfall dominated by a few extreme snowstorms

Citation: Anesthesia works in Antarctica (2019, June 1) retrieved 21 July 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-06-anesthesia-antarctica.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
2 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jun 01, 2019
I hear the cold is numbing down there hukhuk

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more