Local and Regional Anesthesia (2020-11-01)

Delayed Emergence from Anesthesia: What We Know and How We Act

  • Cascella M,
  • Bimonte S,
  • Di Napoli R

Journal volume & issue
Vol. Volume 13
pp. 195 – 206


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Marco Cascella,1 Sabrina Bimonte,1 Raffaela Di Napoli2 1Division of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Istituto Nazionale Tumori – IRCCS – “Fondazione G. Pascale, Naples, Italy; 2Department of Anesthesiology, Institut Jules Bordet, Université Libre De Bruxelles, Bruxelles 1000, BelgiumCorrespondence: Marco CascellaDivision of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Istituto Nazionale Tumori – IRCCS – “Fondazione G. Pascale, Via Semmola 1. 80100, Naples, ItalyTel +39 0815903221Fax +39 0815903778Email [email protected]: The emergence from anesthesia is the stage of general anesthesia featuring the patient’s progression from the unconsciousness status to wakefulness and restoration of consciousness. This complex process has precise neurobiology which differs from that of induction. Despite the medications commonly used in anesthesia allow recovery in a few minutes, a delay in waking up from anesthesia, called delayed emergence, may occur. This phenomenon is associated with delays in the operating room, and an overall increase in costs. Together with the emergence delirium, the phenomenon represents a manifestation of inadequate emergence. Nevertheless, in delayed emergence, the transition from unconsciousness to complete wakefulness usually occurs along a normal trajectory, although slowed down. On the other hand, this awakening trajectory could proceed abnormally, possibly culminating in the manifestation of emergence delirium. Clinically, delayed emergence often represents a challenge for clinicians who must make an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause to quickly establish appropriate therapy. This paper aimed at presenting an update on the phenomenon, analyzing its causes. Diagnostic and therapeutic strategies are addressed. Finally, therapeutic perspectives on the “active awakening” are reported.Keywords: general anesthesia, anesthesia emergence, delayed emergence, emergence delirium