Text, MGH Logo A team of physicians have come together to develop a novel general anesthetic which is believed to be safer for critically ill patients. This novel anesthetic, unlike other anesthetics, does not result in a sudden drop of blood pressure, among other problems. This new development was made by the physicians from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

These physicians have described the preclinical studies on the MOC-etomidate drug, which is known to be a chemically altered version of an existing anesthetic. Seemingly, apart from not reducing the blood pressure, this drug also does not result in prolonged suppression of adrenal gland activity, which seemed to be the case with the original version of the drug.

Lead study author, Douglas Raines, MD, of the MGH Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, says, “We have shown that making a version of etomidate that is broken down very quickly in the body reduces the duration of adrenal suppression while retaining etomidate’s benefit of keeping blood pressure much more stable than other anesthetics do.”

It has been observed that a majority of general anesthetic agents often lower blood pressure right after they have been administered. This may not be a major cause of concern for healthy and young patients, but it may have certain effects on the health of the elderly, critically ill or those suffering from blood loss. Supposedly, etomidate is believed to be used in such circumstances. But since adrenal suppression takes place immediately and can stay back for a number of hours, various other agents are used in order to maintain anesthesia during a procedure; thereby requiring close scrutiny in order to prevent a dangerous drop in the blood pressure.

Therefore in order to develop a safer version of etomidate, these physicians were stated to have imitated the chemical structure of another drug by adding a molecule. This in turn evidently causes the drug to be broken down by natural enzymes immediately after producing its effects. It was alleged that the tests on animal models revealed that MOC-etomidate administration didn’t appear to have much effect on the level of blood pressure and also on the adrenal activity. These effects were noticed even when it was administered at double the dosage that is required to produce anesthesia.

Raines notes that, “If all goes well, we expect that we could give a large dose of MOC-etomidate to induce anesthesia and then run a continuous infusion to maintain anesthesia without reducing blood pressure in even very sick patients. We also anticipate that patients will wake more quickly and with less sedation after surgery and anesthesia.”

Since this analysis was mainly conducted on the effect of a single dose of MOC-etomidate, the next step of these physicians is to evaluate the effects of a continuous infusion of this drug.

These findings have been presented in the issue Anesthesiology.