Conference Attendees Call for More Studies of the Long-Term Effects of Anesthesia

Conference addressing patient safety issues related to surgical and anesthesia practice changes

In 2004, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation sponsored a conference on the long-term effects of anesthesia on patients and made three recommendations of areas for future research.

The anesthesia profession has focused its safety efforts primarily on the period of 30 days following patients' operations. According to the project director, however, recent studies suggest that inflammation during surgery and deep anesthesia may increase the risk of death in patients one or two years following surgery. The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation calculates that these long-term effects could be a factor in 40,000 to 50,000 deaths per year.

Key Results

  • The conference, which met in Boston on September 21–22, 2004, featured a panel of medical experts that reviewed research on the long-term effects of anesthesia on patients and made three recommendations of areas for future research.

    Thirty-three experts, representing anesthesiology, surgery, cardiology, immunology, epidemiology, the Joint Commission on Accreditation for Healthcare Agencies and the federal government attended the conference.

Key Recommendations

  • The meeting report, Anesthesia, Surgery, and Long-Term Outcomes, includes panel members' areas of agreement and suggestions for future research:

    • More studies of large numbers of patients to better identify risk factors for adverse long-term, as well as short-term, outcomes related to anesthesia.
    • Studies of the basic biology of inflammation and the specifics of this biology in anesthesia and surgery settings.
    • More studies to define possible interventions—first, small-scale trials, and then large-scale studies with thousands of patients.

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