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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Anesthesiology, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care
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Minerva Anestesiologica 2001 July-August;67(7-8):539-54


language: Italian

Recovery Room. Organization and clinical aspects

Leykin Y., Costa N., Gullo A. Commento di: S. Montanini

Azienda Ospedaliera «Santa Maria degli Angeli» Pordenone II Servizio di Anestesia e Rianimazione, Università degli Studi - Trieste *Unità Clinica Operativa di Anestesia, Rianimazione e Terapia Antalgica


Correct administration in the early postoperative phase is decisive in the final outcome of surgery and the presence of the Recovery Room (RR) contributes significantly to a reduction in the post-operative risk rate. The objectives of the RR are: removal of the pharmacological effect of general anaesthesia; stabilization of vital parameters (circulation and ventilation); stabilization of body temperature; control of the hydro-electrolytic balance; intensive intervention in the case of an acute complication; prescriving a suitable postoperative analgesia; recovering movement in the case of loco-regional anesthesia. Organization of RR must take into consideration: 1) aspect of environment and location; 2) transport of the patient from the operating room to the RR; 3) definition of the equipment necessary for the RR; 4) definition of the role and qualification of the medical and nursing staff; 5) definition of regulations of assistance and the clinical file; 6) definition of criteria for discharge and transfer; 7) definition of means of adjournment, improvement and comparison with other similar structures. RR is administered by an Anesthetist with clinical, therapeutic and decision-making responsibility for the discharge of patients, while the supervision and assistance patients is entrusted to specialised professional nurses. From a clinical point of view the following data are minitored and recorded: the vital signs (passage of air-ways, cardiac and respiratory frequency, arterial pressure, saturation of O2, EtCO2 (in patient with air-way support), body temperature and the state of consciousness, instrumental monitoring of the patient (at pre-establisced time intervals), control of the skin, the peripheral circulation, surgical wounds, drainage and catheters. The percentage of incidence of complications in RR varies from 6-7 to 30% depending on various studies, probably in relation to the diversity of criteria in defining the complication. The principal complications which can be found in RR, reported in several studies are: respiratory (obstruction of the air-way, hypoxemia, hypoventilation, inhalation), cardio-circulatory (hypotension, hypertension, arrhythmia, myocardial ischemia), postoperative nausea and vomiting, hypothermia and hyperthermia, delayed re-awakening, disorientation and hyper-excitability, postoperative shivering. As long as the patient can be discharged from the RR the following requisites must be satisfied: return of a state of consciousness, stable cardio-circulatory parameters, absence of respiratory depression, absence of bleeding, absence of nausea and vomiting, good analgesia and recovery of movement in the case of loco-regional anesthesia (on this last point not all authors agree). What has been said until now shows the function, usefulness and importance of RRs which must not replace the Intensive Therapy Units. In fact, they are places where the cure must be concluded, in which the Anesthetist is responsible for the whole process. This cure must begin in the preoperative period, continue in the intraoperative period and it is compulsory to proceed in the immediate postoperative period until such a time that, because of the anesthesia administered, the clinical situation of the patient ceases to be considered a potential medical-surgical “urgency-emergency”.

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