The Anesthesia Workstation: Quo Vadis?

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Ensuring adequate ventilation and oxygenation and delivering inhaled anesthetic agent to the patient remain core responsibilities of the anesthesia provider during general anesthesia. Because of the emphasis placed on physiology, pharmacology, clinical sciences, and administrative duties, the stellar anesthesia workstation technology may be underutilized by the anesthesia community. Target-controlled O2 and agent delivery and automated end-expired CO2 control have entered the clinical arena, with only cost, luddism, and administrative hurdles preventing their more widespread use. This narrative review will explain technological aspects of existing and recently introduced anesthesia workstations. Concepts rather than particular anesthesia machines will be addressed, but examples will mostly pertain to the more recently introduced workstations. The anesthesia workstation consists of a ventilator, a carrier gas and agent delivery system, a scavenging system, and monitors. Mainly, the circle breathing circuit configuration, ventilator, and carrier gas and agent delivery technology are discussed. Occasionally, technical details are provided to give the reader a taste of the modern technology.

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