Anaesthetics

Research in the field of anaesthesia and pain management is conducted across a variety of clinical schools and hospitals affiliated with the University of Sydney.

The following Sydney Medical School Foundation Fellows have received support for research into anaesthesia and/or pain management.

The genetic basis of pain: Professor Macdonald Christie (2007)

Professor Macdonald Christie

Persistent pain is a significant health problem globally, both in economic and social terms. In 1999 it was estimated that the cost of unrelieved persistent pain in Australia was in excess of $10billion per annum. The major drugs historically used to manage pain, such as non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory, opioid and anticonvulsant drugs, have had very limited benefit for persistent pain patients.

With assistant from Sydney Medical School Foundation, chief investigators from the Pain Management Research Institute, the Department of Anaesthesia and pain Management, and the Kolling Institute at Royal North Shore Hospital, aim to develop and staff, a behavioural research laboratory to investigate the genetic basis of neuroplasticity in the pain sensing neurons and nerve pathways that produce persistent pain.

The group recently discovered that plasticity of one of nine major sodium channel genes that control excitability of pain sensing nerves plays a role in persistent pain, and they are now producing targeted deletion of this and other genes of interest to identify their role and the potential for developing better approaches to their manipulation in persistent pain states.

Anaesthesia and the brain: Professor Peter Kam & Dr Martin Turner (2007)

Dr Martin Turner

Nuffield Professor of Anaesthetics Peter Kam and his team are pursuing two studies investigating the effects of anaesthesia and surgery on blood flow to the brain.

In the first study, the team was able to show that blood flow to the brain was higher with the propofol technique, indicating that propofol would be the preferred anaesthesia for carotid artery surgery.

The second study focuses on blood flow to the brain during shoulder surgery with preliminary data suggesting that in a small number of patients, blood flow can be reduced. Through this research, the team hopes to reduce the risk of stroke in patients undergoing surgery associated with the serious and debilitating complication of reduced blood flow to the brain.