New article on the discovery news network site. New Machine that will deliver anesthesia thus making Anesthesiologists irrelevant. link; http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/05/13/mcsleepy-anesthesia.html Anesthesiologists, Meet the Competition: McSleepy Eric Bland, Discovery News 21st Century O.R. May 13, 2008 -- The sexy doctors McDreamy and McSteamy from Grey's Anatomy make patients swoon with chiseled jaws and sultry glances. McSleepy, the world's first fully automated anesthesia machine, knocks patients out by administering drugs. Right now McSleepy "is like a young resident who just started," said Thomas Hemmerling, an anesthesiologist at McGill University in Canada who helped design the device. "The McSleepy you see in two years," he added, "will be as good as me on my best day." McSleepy is a computer program hooked up to an anesthesia machine that gets information from sensors deployed across the patient's body. Those sensors monitor the three states that lead to general anesthesia: loss of pain, unconsciousness and muscle relaxation. The anesthesiologist simply tells McSleepy what level of sedation is needed, and the computer tells the anesthesia machine which drugs, in what combination, to administer. If a patient begins to wake up, feel pain, or overly relax, McSleepy detects the change and automatically delivers a dose of the appropriate drug to send the patient back to the predetermined level. In scientific terms it's known as a closed loop feedback system. Shane Sheppard, President of the Canadian Association of Anesthesiologists, says McSleepy is interesting. "The big advance is the ability to close the feedback loop," said Sheppard. Other anesthetist machines have been able to monitor drug levels in the blood, he added, but this is the first to administer drugs in response to drug levels in the patient. In other words, it's like cruise control for anesthesiology and should ensure a less bumpy ride for patients under the knife. Like cruise control is better for the highway than the city, McSleepy is better for long surgeries than short ones. Some drugs used in anesthesiology are quickly metabolized by the body and have to be replaced by the anesthesiologist as often as every 30 minutes. Managing all of the different drugs required can quickly consume all of an anesthesiologist's time during long surgeries. "In surgery you don't want to concentrate on the anesthesia, you want to concentrate on the patient," said Hemmerling. McSleepy won't put anesthesiologists out of a job just yet. Letting McSleepy cruise along frees the anesthesiologist to monitor electrolyte levels, blood loss, patient temperature and a host of other things that need to be watched. An anesthesiologist is also needed on hand if complications arise during surgery, and to help put the patient under general anesthesia and then bring them out again. So far, McSleepy has been used on 10 patients. Hemmerling plans to expand its use to more than 2,000 patients over the next couple of years. Patients have been receptive, he said. "Our initial thought was that patients would be more afraid," he said. "But technology is such an important part of our everyday lives, and patients expect us to go to the next level."