Novel anaesthetics lead the way in patient comfort

A chocolate flavoured sedative for children and the use of chewing gum to top nausea after an anaesthetic are two novel research projects that have received funding by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.

Professor Britta Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg, a paediatric anaesthetists and researcher from The University of Western Australia, has been trialling a specially-designed and formulated chocolate tablet form of the commonly-used drug midazolam.

Midazolam is a short-acting benzodiazepine with sedative, amnesic and anti-anxiety effects and is often administered to young children before they are given an anaesthetic but it is often poorly tolerated because of its bitter taste.

Professor Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg noted that taking midazolam can be a distressing experience because of its bad taste for some children who were already highly stressed in the hospital environment.

In a world first, the professor and he team in collaboration with Professor Lee-Yong Lim – a pharmacologist from the University of Western Australia – have developed a prototype of the chocolate mini-tablet, which she says in early studies has been tolerated very well by young patients.

She hopes the outcome of her study will lead to scaled-up manufacture of the chocolate-based tablet for us in paediatric hospital wards and the adaption of the chocolate base for the formulation of other bitter drugs.

In another novel research project, Melbourne anaesthetist and researcher Dr Jai Darvall is investigation the effectiveness and safety of chewing gum compared with ondansetron – a commonly used anti-nausea drug, in treating post-operative nausea and vomiting after an anaesthetic.

The study will include 100 women aged over 18 undergoing keyhole or breast surgery who will randomly be given orfansetron or chewing gum.

Dr Darvall said: “Chewing gum, if effective, is a cheap alternative therapy to medication.”

Image is for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Dima Sobko

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