SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Anaesthesia. Close-up of a woman inhaling anaesthetic gas from a transparent gas- mask prior to surgery. Her eyes have closed, showing that the drug has taken effect. Anaesthetic gases, such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and halothane, are used to induce or maintain unconsciousness during surgery. Other drugs are also given to abolish pain (e.g. morphine) or to relax muscles (e.g. pancuronium), which makes sur- gical manipulation easier. Because anaesthesia can lead to vomiting, slowed breathing and irregular heartbeat, the anaesthetist keeps a careful check on pulse and breathing throughout an operation.
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