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Link between diet and anesthesia. Foods eaten just days before surgery may affect how the body metabolizes anesthetic agents. Small amounts of solanaceous glycoalkaloids (SGAs)-found naturally in potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant-block two enzymes in the human body and can therefore slow the metabolism of many local anesthetics and muscle relaxants. The new research suggests that variable patient responses to anesthesia amounts may be more attributable to diet than was previously thought.


Fewer complications with regional anesthesia. A recent study confirms the benefits of regional anesthesia in the elderly. Compared to general anesthesia, regional anesthesia results in fewer postop complications related to bowel function; reduces the drowsiness, nausea, and other adverse effects associated with narcotics; and shortens hospital stays by as much as two days. Regional anesthesia (epidural or spinal) works by blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain from the site of surgery.


Achieving successful anesthesia in children. Reducing presurgical anxiety in frightened children may be best accomplished by the use of sedatives. In a recent study of 85 patients under age seven, those who were given a sedative while in the preoperative holding area were less anxious when leaving their parents, entering the operating room, and undergoing anesthesia than those who were accompanied by their parents but not given a sedative, or than those who received no intervention. Sedation also improved compliance during anesthesia induction. Depending on their behavior, parents themselves may heighten the child's anxiety, according to the researchers.


Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists, press releases, Oct. 17 and 20, 1998