Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists’ occupational exposure to inhalational anesthetic agents: a survey of anesthetic gas safety


Background: Anesthetic gases have been known to cause damage when inhaled over long periods of time. Modern safety measures have been put in place to reduce the risk to anesthesia providers, however there is continued lack of information on providers experiencing short term effects (lethargy, fatigue, headache, slowed cognitive ability, nausea, and mucosal irritation) thereby leading to long-term sequalae (sister chromatid exchanges, micronuclei, chromosomal aberrations, and comet assays).

Method: A thirteen item, multiple choice survey was sent to 3,000 anesthesia providers, of which 463 completed the survey. A Chi-square test of independence was used to determine the association between gas exposure and participant self-reported symptoms. A Spearman’s Correlation test was also utilized to interpret this data since both frequency of smelling gas and frequency of symptoms were ordinal variables for which Spearman’s rho correlation was the appropriate measure of association.

Results: The major findings were that as the frequency of smelling anesthetic gas increased, so too did the frequency of self-reported headaches and fatigue. Spearman’s rho = .148 and .092. P value = .002 and .049, respectively.

Conclusion: There have been many efforts to decrease the risk of exposure of anesthesia providers to anesthetic gases. While there is a decrease in reported exposures, indications of possible long-term effects remain a concern in anesthesia providers. Potential implications of exposure could lead to chromosomal aberrations, sister chromatid exchanges, comet assays, spontaneous abortions, and genotoxic effects.

Authors: Trent Masselink, Jan Hardinger, Carrie Bowman-Dalley, Crystal O’Guinn, Kumudhini Hendrix, Nancy Crowell, Ladan Eshkevari
; Full Source: BMC anesthesiology 2022 Dec 3;22(1):375. doi: 10.1186/s12871-022-01896-y.