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Br J Anaesth. 2009 Dec;103 Suppl 1:i57-65. doi: 10.1093/bja/aep271.

Perioperative considerations for the patient with asthma and bronchospasm.

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Department of Anesthesiology PH 527-B, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The incidence of asthma is increasing worldwide, but morbidity and mortality are decreasing because of improvements in medical care. Although the incidence of severe perioperative bronchospasm is relatively low in asthmatics undergoing anaesthesia, when it does occur it may be life-threatening. The keys to an uncomplicated perioperative course are assiduous attention to detail in preoperative assessment, and maintenance of the anti-inflammatory and bronchodilatory regimens through the perioperative period. Potential trigger agents should be identified and avoided. Many routinely used anaesthetic agents have an ameliorative effect on airway constriction. Nonetheless, acute bronchospasm can still occur, especially at induction and emergence, and should be promptly and methodically managed.

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