Inhaled anaesthetics which are commonly employed for surgery-particularly the anaesthetic desflurane - are found to be a significant contributor to global warming, according to a new study.
Dr. Susan M. Ryan of University of California and computer scientist Claus J. Nielsen of University of Oslo said that sevoflurane, isoflurane, and desflurane are recognized greenhouse gases.
Using desflurane for one hour is equivalent to 235 to 470 miles of driving.
The anaesthetics "usually are vented out of the building as medical waste gases and remain in the atmosphere for a long time," the researchers write.
Ryan and Nielsen suggest some "simple, knowledge-based decisions" that anaesthesiologists can follow to minimize their environmental impact unless there are medical reasons to use it and avoiding unnecessarily high anaesthetic flow rates, especially with desflurane.
The study is published in the July issue of Anaesthesia and Analgesia.