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Thorac Surg Clin. 2005 Feb;15(1):1-10.

The evolution of thoracic anesthesia.

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Department of Anesthesia, H3580, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


The specialty of thoracic surgery has evolved along with the modem practice of anesthesia. This close relationship began in the 1930s and continues today. Thoracic surgery has grown from a field limited almost exclusively to simple chest wall procedures to the present situation in which complex procedures, such as lung volume reduction or lung transplantation, now can be performed on the most severely compromised patient. The great advances in thoracic surgery have followed discoveries and technical innovations in many medical fields. One of the most important reasons for the rapid escalation in the number and complexity of thoracic surgical procedures now being performed has been the evolution of anesthesia for thoracic surgery. There has been so much progress in this area that numerous books and journals are devoted entirely to this subject. The author has been privileged to work with several surgeons who specialized in noncardiac thoracic surgery. As a colleague of 25 years, the noted pulmonary surgeon James B.D. Mark wrote, "Any operation is a team effort... (but) nowhere is this team effort more important than in thoracic surgery, where near-choreography of moves by all participants is essential. Exchange of information, status and plans are mandatory". This team approach between the thoracic surgeon and the anesthesiologist reflects the history of the two specialties. With new advances in technology, such as continuous blood gas monitoring and the pharmacologic management of pulmonary circulation to maximize oxygenation during one-lung ventilation, in the future even more complex procedures may be able to be performed safely on even higher risk patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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