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J Crit Care. 2009 Dec;24(4):535-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2009.01.003. Epub 2009 Mar 27.

State of the art: sedation concepts with volatile anesthetics in critically Ill patients.

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Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, University Hospital Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, D-06120 Halle, Germany.


The use of volatile anesthetics in the intensive care unit (ICU) has only been possible at great cost with the use of commercially available anesthesia systems. A new anesthetic-conserving device (AnaConDa) now facilitates, from a technical viewpoint, the routine use of volatile anesthetics in intensive care patients as part of prolonged sedation, using ICU ventilators. The volatile anesthetic is hereby applied continually via a syringe pump into a miniature vaporizer, which is integrated into the ventilator circuit in place of the usual respiratory filter. During expiration, the anesthetic exhaled by the patient enters the recirculation system, is predominantly stored in the active carbon layer of the anesthetic-conserving device, and redirected into the inspiratory air. At clinically relevant concentrations, more than 90% of the gas is recirculated in such a way. Aside from the possibility of using a central anesthetic gas scavenging system, the use of special passive residual gas filters, which can be connected to the expiratory outlet of the respirator machine, appears above all to be practical. The use of volatile anesthetics on the ICU could adopt a permanent position in various intensive care analgosedation concepts in future. It may be possible thereby to optimize the treatment process both in medical and economical terms.

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