The Anesthesia Machine is more closely associated with the practice of anesthesiology than any other piece of medical equipment. Modern anesthetic machines are very sophisticated, with many incorporated safety features and devices. Among the most common are a breathing circuit, monitors, a mechanical ventilator, and microprocessors that can enhance, integrate, and monitor all components.
Additional monitors can be added externally and still be fully integrated. Modular designs allow a variety of optional configurations and features. For this reason the term anesthesia workstation is often used when referring to modern anesthesia machines. Use of microprocessors provides options such as sophisticated ventilator modes, automated recordkeeping, and networking with local or remote monitors as well as hospital information systems. Proper machine function is paramount to ensure patient safety.
Careful titration of anesthetic agents aids in preventing adverse side effects. Additional safety features for a modern anesthesia workstation include gas-specific connections to pipeline inlets which are not interchangeable, pin index safety system for cylinders with pressure gauges, low oxygen pressure alarm, minimum oxygen/nitrous oxide ratio controller device, oxygen failure safety device, oxygen concentration monitor and alarm, breathing circuit pressure monitor and alarm, and a backup battery.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists have adopted practice standards which stipulate the types of monitors essential for the practice of anesthesia. The FDA also publishes anesthesia apparatus checkout procedures, the goal of which is to uncover the most common faults in anesthesia machine and breathing systems. The latest major change in equipment has been the introduction of computer-driven anesthesia machines and ventilators. These machines have automated checkout procedures that cover most of the items in the FDA checkout.