Magnet Therapy May Save Lives During Surgery

2012-06-03 09:50

High spinal block is a serious, but relatively rare complication of surgery when injected anesthetic medications travel too far up the spinal cord and prevent the brain’s signals from reaching the heart and lungs. In such cases, potential cardiac arrest and death can occur. Recently, however, researchers report that they may have found a life-saving solution to this problem by making spinal anesthesia safer using magnet therapy.

Spinal anesthesia is used in some surgeries to numb or block pain to parts of the body during a surgical procedure.

A spinal anesthesia procedure typically involves an anesthesiologist injecting the medications directly into the fluid in your spinal cord, after which your blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, heart and respirations are closely monitored until after the surgery has ended. Spinal anesthesia is often used for genital, urinary tract and lower body procedures and is preferable to general anesthesia in some cases because of fewer side effects with spinal anesthesia compared to general anesthesia.

However, at times a complication referred to as “high spinal block” can occur and lead to respiratory and circulatory distress. Signs and symptoms of spinal block include:

• Hypotension
• Bradycardia
• Cardiac arrest
• Respiratory compromise
• Apnea
• Reduced oxygen saturation
• Difficulty speaking/coughing
• Nausea and anxiety
• Arm/hand dysaesthesia or paralysis
• Loss of consciousness

While the exact cause of high spinal block is not totally understood, it is believed that the medications somehow wind up traveling too high up the spinal cord and thereby numb the nerve signals needed by the heart and lungs. Some identified potential risk factors for patients who might experience high spinal block include:

1. A prior epidural
2. Too large of a local anesthetic dose
3. Immediate supine positioning
4. Increased intra-abdominal pressure (including pregnancy and truncal obesity)

During surgery, anesthesiologists attempt to prevent high spinal block by adjusting the dosing of the anesthetic medications and by positioning the patient so that gravity pulls the numbing drugs to the lower portions of the spinal cord. Unfortunately, however, relying on gravity does not always work sufficiently, thereby necessitating the need for a new procedure or therapy to prevent untoward spread of the anesthetic drugs.


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