Inventions like the wheel, light bulb and telephone dominate the history books, but it is my belief that anyone facing a surgical procedure would nominate modern anesthesia as their favorite product of the Industrial Revolution . Anesthetics have played an important role in history as it has allowed many advancements in medicine as it relates to surgery and other sophisticated medical procedures. It also has some responsibilities in paving the way for novel discoveries in biomedical research and has helped those of the scientific community to suffocate the growing issues of ethics in research. It is for these reasons that I nominate the collection of molecules that make up anesthetics (or anesthesia) as the compounds that had the most impact on the modern human society.
Anesthetics are medications used to temporally and reversibly render the body’s systems, organs or tissues insensitive to certain stimuli, specifically pain and touch. The name comes from Dr. Oliver W. Holmes, an eighteenth century American physician, professor and author. Dr. Holmes constructed its’ name from the Greek words that refers to the "loss or inhibition of sensation." These largely work by preventing nerves from carrying pain signals to the brain. This way, the brain does not perceive pain. But this loss of sensitivity is not the only affect it causes in your body. Anesthesia has numerous properties that have made it one of the world’s most important groups of compounds. Apart from its’ ability to relieve pain, it can instigate amnesia (knocking out your memory of the procedure or how it felt), reduce anxiety and/or relax and paralyze target muscles. There are many types of anesthetics, some with multiple functions that make it ideal for a specific or special procedure.
When you first think of anesthesia you think of those drugs that cause complete unconsciousness when they are administered. This is a class known as general anesthesia, however there are several other types that vary based on their function or the areas that they affect. They range from local anesthetics, whose affects can be isolated to a minute area, to regional anesthesia for larger regions of the body. However, the type that is received depends on a number of factors, including the kind of procedure needed, the patient’s medical history, body’s condition, age and/or sex.
General anesthesia places the entire body, including the brain, into a state of unconsciousness during which the patient has no awareness and no type of sensation. They are usually responsible for the patient also being unable to recall anything of the surgical experience by inducing amnesia or the loss of memory. The purposes of general anesthetics also include submitting the patients body immobile by inhibiting any type of motor reflexes and relaxing the skeletal muscles. When administered it is usually given as a direct IV injection or through inhalation by breathing masks.
Local and regional anesthesia are types...