Charcoal Gas Filter
Apr 13, 2016 10:00 AM
Charcoal Gas Filter
An expert in general anesthesia, bioengineering, and the anesthetic management of ophthalmic surgery patients, Derek J. Sakata, MD, knows that some patients do not tolerate anesthesia well, particularly patients who are vulnerable to malignant hyperthermia (MH)—an inherited disorder that affects one in twenty-five thousand people. “It’s triggered by the inhaled gases that we use to keep you asleep during eye surgery,” says Sakata. “The gases, which are absorbed by plastic parts in the anesthesia machine, can linger and may be slowly released when the machine is used for a new patient. In vulnerable patients, these lingering gases have the potential to cause the body’s temperature to heat up to the point where cells break down and may cause cardiac arrest.”
While rare, MH can have a 50 percent fatality rate if not treated immediately, so physicians cannot risk exposing vulnerable patients to ANY of the sleeping gases in the machine. Before surgery, anesthesiologists ask patients if they or one of their family members have ever had problems with anesthesia. “Historically, if the patient said yes, we had to flush the machine to get those gases lower than 5ppm (parts per million), and that delayed surgery by more than an hour,” Sakata notes.
Sakata and his partners Drs. Joseph Orr, Dwayne Westenskow, and Steve Blackwell formed Dynasthetics in 2011 to tackle the issue of anesthesia vapors. Their product, Vapor-Clean, is an FDA-approved system of medical grade charcoal filters that can reduce exposure of anesthetic vapor molecules to less than 5ppm in 90 seconds. “Before Vapor-Clean, we had a 10-year-old patient whom we suspected had an MH reaction. This can be prevented now,” says Sakata. Vapor-Clean is a single-patient-use device and has been evaluated and recommended by the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States.
R E S E A R C H
The idea to develop Vapor-Clean was sparked by Sakata and partners Drs. Joseph Orr and Dwayne Westenskow’s first invention, the ANEClearTM—an anesthetic reversal device that allows patients to partially rebreathe their own exhaled carbon dioxide to clear inhaled anesthetics from the brain, reducing their time in the operating and recovery room. “We discovered that doctors at Cincinnati Children’s hospital were using the ANEClear to keep anesthetic vapors from coming out of the machine to protect MH-vulnerable patients,” says Sakata. “But ANEClear wasn’t designed to get the gases below the required 5ppm.”
Derek J. Sakata, MD, is medical director for Anesthesia Services, John A. Moran Eye Center; associate professor, University of Utah Department of Anesthesiology; and adjunct associate professor of ophthalmology and bio-engineering. He holds the Leland O. and Avanelle W. Learned Endowed Professorship in Anesthesiology.