Carbon dioxide absorbers have been used in anesthesiology for many years. However, this process is not limited to this field of medicine. Removing carbon dioxide from human environment is used in other areas as well: mining industry, submarines, scuba diving, space travel and many others. The rationale to remove carbon dioxide from confined spaces is that cannot be eliminated otherwise. Anesthesia practitioners are well aware of this component of the circle system, the carbon dioxide absorber. In daily practice, the clinician is less concerned with what kind of substance fills the dedicated canister, as this is usually in the care of the maintenance personnel. The appearance of Sevoflurane and Desflurane, with their own chemical characteristics, prompted the clinician to dedicate new attention to these absorbents. The classical substances used for this purpose are different combinations of limes. The practical concern of the anesthesiologist is to notice when the absorbent is consumed and call for its replacement. Still, many other aspects remain: compound A formation with Sevoflurane, carbon monoxide formation with Desflurane and dry absorbent for instance. The latest member of these products in the medical field is the LiOH carbon dioxide absorbent. Although used for many years in the space exploration, its way into the operating room is a rather recent achievement. Special chemical properties and high absorptive capacity make this new type of absorbent an attractive option for modern anesthesia practice. The article below invites the reader through a short journey on the history of the CO2 absorbents and anesthesia circuits, Lithium as a chemical element and, finally, to this new type of absorbent.
Keywords: carbon dioxide absorbent, anesthesia circle system, lithium, traditional and proprietary absorbents, absorptive capacity, Apollo 13 story, recycling
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