With a growing need for healthcare facilities and clinicians to work in a cost-effective and eco-friendly way, adopting a low flow anesthesia method can provide several advantages worth examining. The benefits include financial, environmental, and safety advantages for both patients and clinicians.
Anesthesia plays a vital role in a patient’s surgical care pathway. The primary function of anesthesia is to help surgeons mitigate their patient’s pain during an operation. An anesthesia machine is a pneumatic device that supplies a mixture of oxygen, gas, and anesthetic agents to patients, allowing them to remain unconscious but breathing during surgery.
Most anesthesia machines feature breathing circuits. The breathing circuits deliver the essential gases to a patient and eliminate exhaledCO2. Today, most anesthesia machines feature a circle rebreathing system, the most popular breathing system in the US1. Circle circuits remove the CO2 exhaled by the patient and allow the rebreathing of the exhaled anesthetic gases.
Adopting a low flow anesthesia protocol allows clinicians to use less anesthesia agent, one of the most expensive costs of the operating room (OR), by recycling or using less of the agent. The result is not only environmental “Green OR” benefits and cost savings but added patient and clinician safety.
What Is Low Fresh Gas Flow/Low Flow Anesthesia?
Low flow anesthesia – also known as low flow ventilation or low fresh gas flow – refers to minimizing the amount of anesthetic agent used when giving a patient general anesthesia. A term frequently used to describe reduced fresh gas flows, low flow anesthesia enables gas conservation by using the lowest flow required to attain the desired balance between the exchange rate of fresh gas and anesthesia agent.
How To Perform Low Flow Anesthesia
Vaporizers add precise amounts of anesthetics to the gas flow within a breathing system. In most machines, the total gas flow enters the vaporizer, splitting the fresh gas into a carrier gas and a bypass gas. The carrier gas receives the anesthetic agent and then meets back up with the bypass gas before entering the patient’s breathing circuit. Operators can control the ratio of the split to decrease or increase the gas concentration, thus controlling the amount of anesthetic a patient will receive. With a low flow anesthesia approach, the sample gas is recycled from the anesthesia machine back into the breathing system, improving agent cost savings by reducing the amount of fresh gas and agent used.
The A-Series Advantage Optimizer
For clinicians and environmentally conscious facilities striving for a greener OR, low flow anesthesia helps medical professionals practice cost containment while also improving their environmental footprint, making this investment advantageous for many reasons. The Optimizer™ facilitates low flow anesthesia with extreme precision, enabling clinicians to:
- Manage intraoperative fresh gas dynamics
- Visualize real-time intra-case agent usage
- Quantify actual end of case agent consumption values
The Optimizer monitors intra-case fresh gas and agent usage. It displays a recommended value of total fresh gas to ensure that the ventilator provides an efficient level of fresh gas. This prevents breathing system depletion and minimizes excess fresh gas being directed to the scavenging system.