Risk factors linked to anesthetic agents

The importance of anesthetic agents in the occurrence of atelectasis has never been demonstrated in man. However, the action of anesthetic agents on mucociliary clearance has been demonstrated experimentally. Halothane, enflurane, and morphine reduce mucus transport in animals. Similarly, thiopental anesthesia increases the rigidity (elasticity and viscosity) of mucus in dog. However, there is no modification in the viscoelastic properties of mucus in patients submitted to general anesthesia. The action of anesthetic agents on mucociliary clearance is probably due more to a depression in ciliary activity than to a modification in mucus composition, and there is no difference between inhaled agents and intravenous anesthetics in the development of perianesthetic atelectasis ( Rubin eLaL 1990).

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