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Life Cycle Analysis of Anaesthetic Agents

How do the drugs we use affect the environment? In this article, we discuss life cycle assessments for anaesthetic agents.

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)

  • Evaluates the environmental impact of a product over its entire life cycle.
  • Holistic approach that takes into account all the activities involved in the creation of a product
    • Material extraction
    • Manufacturing
    • Transportation
    • Distribution
    • Use
    • Disposal
  • Quantifies and compares the ecological footprint of various inhalational and intravenous anaesthetics

Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Anesthetic Drugs

  • Sherman et al undertook LCAs for 5 common anaesthetic agents
    • Sevoflurane
    • Desflurane
    • Isoflurane
    • Nitrous oxide
    • Propofol
  • Desflurane accounted for the largest life cycle GHG impact
    • 15 times that of isoflurane
    • 20 times that of sevoflurane
  • GHG impacts of propofol are comparatively quite small, nearly 4 orders of magnitude lower than those of desflurane or nitrous oxide.
  • Using nitrous oxide as a carrier gas significantly increases the GHG all drugs
  • Inhalation anesthetics are greenhouse gases and the life cycle GHG emissions include waste anesthetic gases vented to the atmosphere and emissions that arise from other life cycle stages.
  • GHG impacts of propofol primarily stem from the electricity required for the syringe pump and not from drug production or direct release to the environment.
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Introduction to Using Total Intravenous Anaesthesia (TIVA)

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