Each year millions of Americans risk undergoing surgery for a variety of problems such as organ transplants, mending broken bones and cosmetic surgeries. Often surgery is necessary to fix ongoing health problems with the benefits of the surgery usually outweighing the risks. Despite the potential risks to surgery patients, in the United States more than 48 million surgeries are performed each year. In most cases, undergoing surgery is relatively risk free, but not always.
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and CMSRC)
Previous research has found that anesthesia administered during surgery can lead to higher levels of oxidative damage in purine and pyrimidine bases of DNA, as well as DNA strand breakage. Within 24 hours, the DNA repair enzymes in cells repair most of the oxidative DNA damage. Moreover, this damage is not limited to just the person undergoing surgery, but also operating room personal can be affected when exposed to minute amounts of anesthesia. Other organs not related to the operation can be damaged from anesthesia administered during surgery. Recently, university scientists at the University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus have found a solution to minimize the risks of using anesthesia during surgery.
|(Courtesy of Dept. of Anesthesiology)|
A team of researchers lead by Holger Eltzschig, MD, have been studying the “related chemical processes in cancer, lung injury, bowel inflammation and platelet function, among others” to understand how anesthesia can damage human organs during surgery. In their research, they have discovered that purine molecules can protect against anesthesia damage during surgery. Purines are a group of molecules that are commonly used in the production of DNA and RNA. The scientists found that when adenosine, a purine, is outside the cell during surgery it gives the cell protection against anesthesia damage. The extracellular adenosine activates the adenosine receptors on the heart, intestines, and lungs resulting in anti-inflammatory protection.
According to Eltzschig, “This is a promising discovery and it suggests a new way to promote healing.”
With this new discovery usually safe surgeries can be made even safer.
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Rinaldodsouza)
Doctor Holger Eltzschig is a professor in the department of Anesthesiology at the University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus. The Department of Anesthesiology is an independent department located in the health sciences center on the Anschutz Medical Campus. The department has a partnership with the University of Colorado Hospital, Children's Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The department provides both advanced training in anesthesiology for medical students, as well as pursues research projects to improve human health. The focus of research in this department is perioperative medicine with a special emphasis on anesthesiology projects in order to help surgery patients. With research advances, the department hopes to find new targets for beneficial treatments, find new methods for pain reduction, and new advances in anesthesiology. The funding for research in the Department of Anesthesiology comes from many different agencies, but the National Institutes of Health and Anesthesia Research Foundations fund most of the projects.
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