Plastic Hospital Tubing May Affect Heart Function, Taste
Researchers have discovered a possible cause for memory and taste loss among patients who undergo procedures such as heart bypass and dialysis - it may be the plastic tubing used to deliver intravenous fluids, also shown to affect heart function in lab studies using rats.
The researchers say their study may have implications for the manufacture of medical plastics. It seems that plastic tubing used to circulate fluids outside the body may cause lingering problems for patients.
The study results appear online in the American Journal of Physiology. Lead author Artin Shoukas, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering, physiology and anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins had coronary bypass surgery, noting the after effects on his own taste buds.
"I'm a chocoholic, and after my bypass surgery everything tasted awful, and chocolate tasted like charcoal for months." He suspected the effects might be due to some sort of chemical compound, leading to the findings that plastic hospital tubing may be releasing chemicals that have a lingering effect on patients after surgery and responsible for taste loss, swelling and memory loss.
The researchers took samples of liquid from plastic IV bags and bypass tubing before being used on patients. They discovered the presence of cyclohexanone when the fluid was analyzed using another machine that can analyze unknown chemicals.
They noted that the amount of cyclohexanone present varied greatly, but all of the liquid samples had some level of cyclohexanone present. The scientists suspected that the chemical in plastic hospital tubing might be the cause of patient problems such as taste loss, memory loss, swelling and fatigue.
They also found that rats injected with the solution containing cyclohexanone , the chemical produced weaker heart contractions. The research team discovered that the rats heart function decreased by fifty percent from cyclohexanone in plastic hospital tubing. The chemical from the plastic hospital tubing also caused fluid retention and less sensitive blood pressure control in the rats.
The researchers hope to find a way to reduce the lingering effects of the chemical that may cause taste and memory loss, and decreased heart function in patients when cyclohexanone leeches from plastic hospital tubing. “
We would never recommend that patients decline this type of treatment if they need it," says Shoukas. "On the contrary, such technologies are life-saving medical advances, and their benefits still far outweigh the risks of the associated side effects. As scientists, we are simply trying to understand how the side effects are triggered and what the best method will be to mitigate, and ultimately remedy, these morbidities."
No one has been able to understand why memory loss and loss of taste occur after bypass surgery. The scientists may have discovered the source of lingering problems such as loss of taste and memory that occur among patients after major heart surgery, from cyclohexanone, found in plastic hospital tubing.