All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for January 2003

Anaesthetic gases linked to MS

Thursday, December 19, 2002
By Health Newswire reporters

Staff exposed to anaesthetic gases at work may be three times as likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) as those who are not, say doctors.

The new study by researchers in Sweden highlights the importance of protective measures for health employees working in operating theatres.

The team surveyed a group of nurses who had contracted multiple sclerosis. Of the 83 questioned, 13 were nurse anaesthetists and 11 of these had been exposed to anaesthetic gases for an average of 14 years before they were diagnosed.

The researchers then compared the incidence of MS in the general population with that among the anaesthetic nurses, and found the nurses were three times more likely to develop the condition.

“Although based on crude data and a somewhat approximate analysis, this study provides preliminary evidence for an excess risk of MS in nurse anaesthetists,” say the researchers. However, they warn that further studies would be needed to assess the risk more accurately.

Anaesthetic gases are chemically related to organic solvents used in industry, which have previously been linked to an increased incidence of MS.

The researchers say measures are needed to ensure operating rooms have adequate exhaust ventilation systems to reduce anaesthetic staff’s exposure to anaesthetic gases.

The MS Society, however, said the results should be interpreted with caution. “People have been working with anaesthetics for years and if there was a real link, it’s surprising it hasn’t become apparent before now.”

The research is published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

© HMG Worldwide 2002