Editorial Discusses Use of Propofol Anesthesia to Increase Recall of Traumatic Events

In an editorial for Anesthesiology, J. Lance Lichtor discussed whether propofol anesthesia should be used shortly after a patient experiences a stressful event.

Mr. Lichtor cited a study published this month in Anesthesiology that reasons propofol might affect memory consolidation of emotionally arousing experiences through activation of the endocannabinoid system. The study used foot shock to train rats to avoid entering the dark compartment of an apparatus and received propofol, midazolam or pentobarbital 30, 60 or 180 minutes after training. Forty-eight hours later, the rates were placed in the testing apparatus and the authors measured time taken to enter the compartment.

The study showed that propofol, rather than midazolam or pentobarbital, was linked to 48-hour memory enhancement, and higher doses of propofol were linked to longer retention of memory. Mr. Lichtor said if the study translates directly to humans, propofol may produce enhanced recall of a traumatic event if administered shortly afterward.

Mr. Lichtor concluded that more study is needed in this area to determine the effect of propofol following a traumatic event.

Read the Anesthesiology editorial on propofol anesthesia.

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