Universal Anesthesia Machine: Clinical Application in an Austere, Resource-Limited Environment

Stefani A. Vande Lune, James H. Lantry, Phillip E. Mason, Richard Skupski, Arthur Toth, Donald Zimmer, John Mulligan, Michael T. McCurdy, Emilee E. Larson, Fletcher Preuss, Quincy K. Tran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: In austere environments, the safe administration of anesthesia becomes challenging because of unreliable electrical sources, limited amounts of compressed gas, and insufficient machine maintenance capabilities. Such austere environments exist in battlefield medicine, in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and in areas struck by natural disasters. Whether in military operations or civilian settings, the Universal Anesthesia Machine (UAM) (Gradian Health Systems, New York, New York) is a draw-over device capable of providing safe and effective general anesthesia when external oxygen supplies or reliable electrical sources are limited. This brief report discusses a proof-of-concept observational study demonstrating the clinical utility of the UAM in a resource-limited area. Materials and Methods: This observational study of 20 patients in Haiti who underwent general anesthesia using the UAM highlights the device's capability to deliver anesthesia intraoperatively in a resource-limited LMIC clinical setting. Preoxygenation was achieved with the UAM's draw-over oxygen supply. Patients received acetaminophen for analgesia, dexmedetomidine for preinduction anesthesia, and succinylcholine for paralysis. After induction, the UAM provided a mixture of oxygen and isoflurane for maintenance of anesthesia. Manual ventilation was performed using draw-over bellows until spontaneous ventilation recurred, when clinically appropriate, artificial airways were removed. Intraoperative medication was administered at the anesthesiologist's discretion. The institutional review board at the U.S. anesthesiologists' affiliated institution and the Haitian hospital approved this study; patients were consented in their native language. Results: Two anesthesiologists used the UAM to deliver general anesthesia to 20 patients in a Haitian hospital without access to an external oxygen supply, reliable power grid, or opioids. The patients' average age was ~40 years, and 90% of them were male. Most of the cases were herniorrhaphy (50%) and hydrocelectomy (25%) surgeries. The median American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score was 2; 45% of the patients had an ASA score of 1, and none had an ASA score >3. Of the 20 cases, 55% of patients received an endotracheal tube, and 40% received a laryngeal mask airway; for one patient, only a masked airway was used. Every patient was discharged on the day of the surgery. No complications occurred in the perioperative or 1-month follow-up period. Conclusion: The UAM can be used where a lack of resources and training exist because of its simple design, built-in oxygen concentrator, and capacity to revert from continuous-flow to draw-over anesthesia in the event of a power failure or if external oxygen supplies are unavailable. We believe the UAM addresses some of the shortcomings of modern anesthesia machines and has the potential to improve the delivery of safe general anesthesia in combat and austere scenarios. Further studies could consider different types of surgeries than those reported here and involve more complex patients. Studies involving alternative anesthetic agents and non-anesthesiologist personnel are also needed. Overall, this brief report detailing the use of the UAM following a natural disaster in a LMIC is proof of concept that the machine can provide reliable anesthesia for surgical procedures in austere and resource-limited environments, including disaster areas and modern combat zones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E550-E556
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jun 8 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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