Gina M. Stangel

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Document Type

Major Paper


School of Nursing




General anesthesia is intended to deliver proper comfort and pain relief, with a safe and rapid recovery with minimal side effects. Ideally, patients are optimized prior to undergoing anesthesia, (an asthmatic receiving an albuterol treatment to reduce the likelihood of bronchospasm, for example). Emergence from anesthesia involves the reversal of a neuromuscular blockade if used, a patient breathing spontaneously, regaining consciousness, and the ability to follow commands. Patients requiring general anesthesia can be given intravenous propofol, an inhaled anesthetic gas or a combination of both. Volatile anesthetic gases used today allow for rapid recovery from anesthesia due to their low-blood gas solubility. While volatiles are generally safe for patients, inhalation agents do cause respiratory depression, which can still pose a problem once the patient is transferred to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). Respiratory depression has the potential to cause atelectasis, hypoxia, hypercarbia, and longer PACU or hospital stays. General anesthesia also results in the loss of protective airway reflexes, which can lead to pulmonary aspiration and potentially cause pneumonia and death. Sevoflurane and desflurane are two of the most commonly used volatile anesthetics in the United States. The purpose of this systematic review was to compare the recovery time between desflurane and sevoflurane in hospitalized adults undergoing general anesthesia. The PRISMA flow diagram was used to guide the systematic review. Data was collected from each study and a cross study analysis was conducted. Findings indicated, in all studies, that desflurane showed significantly faster recovery than sevoflurane. Use of desflurane over sevoflurane shows faster, safer recovery, an important consideration for anesthesia providers. Applying this to practice can make an immense difference in the post-operative recovery of adults undergoing general anesthesia.

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Nursing Commons