Study of the Day: ADHD Medicine May Aid Recovery From Anesthesia

More

New research shows Ritalin, the widely-used ADHD drug, may be an easy and effective way to wake up patients from general anesthesia

main Army Medicine flickr 5631344474_10a5a3cee9_o.jpg

PROBLEM: At the end of a surgical procedure, patients typically regain consciousness on their own as doctors simply let anesthetic drugs wear off. Studies have shown, however, that the state of general anesthesia is a controlled and reversible coma that bears little resemblance to natural sleep. While unconscious, patients are at risk of complications, such as delirium and cognitive dysfunction.

METHODOLOGY: In a series of lab experiments, researchers led by Harvard Medical School professor Ken Solt administered methylphenidate (Ritalin), a drug widely used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or saline to rats that were previously given isoflurane, a general anesthetic.

RESULTS: The animals that received methylphenidate recovered significantly faster than those that received saline. Methylphenidate also induced signs of arousal, such as movement, in animals continuing to receive isoflurane at a dose that would normally have been sufficient to maintain unconsciousness.

CONCLUSION: The commonly used stimulant methylphenidate may hasten recovery from general anesthesia. This study is the first demonstration in mammals of a safe and effective way to induce arousal from general anesthesia.

IMPLICATIONS: More precise ways to control the arousal process may lead to strategies that help patients recover from coma, coauthor Emery Brown says in a news release. Brown says that the ability to safely reduce the time patients spend in the operating room (around $1,250 an hour) could lead to significant savings in health costs as well.

SOURCE: The full study, "Methylphenidate Actively Induces Emergence from General Anesthesia," is published in the journal Anesthesiology.

Image: Army Medicine/Flickr.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The US is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In