Table of General Anesthetics
History and Chemistry
Usefulness of Ether
Ether Unsuitable For Anesthetic
New Generation of Anesthetics
GC-MS tutorial
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General Anesthetics

The History and Chemistry Behind General Anesthetic Identification

At the dawn of the 20th century, there existed only three primary general anesthetics that surgeons used to produce anesthesia: chloroform (CHCl3), ethyl ether (CH3CH2OCH2CH3), and nitrous oxide (N2O). With the advent of improved technology and the drive to replace older, more dangerous anesthetics with those that would remain effective yet safe to the patient, a variety of new compounds are used by today's anesthesiologists. While there is a risk with any anesthetic administered, the compounds in use today have greatly reduced this risk as compared to even 20 years ago. The role of an anesthesiologist has been developed since the first days of anesthesia when a surgeon or apprentice, without any sort of training, would administer the medicine. Nowadays, anesthesiologists are certified in the field of anesthesiology after rigorous schooling, and the necessity of their presence in the operating room is unquestioned.

General anesthetics are like any other chemical in that they each have a unique structure and distinguishing chemical properties. For example, they each have unique IR, 1H-NMR, 13C-NMR and MS spectra. As many of the currently used anesthetics are small molecules, highly halogenated and very volatile, mass spectrometry is a useful diagnostic tool for this general class of compounds. Indeed, mass spectrometers are used to routinely monitor operating room conditions to ensure proper levels of the anesthetic to the patient versus to the doctors and nurses performing the operation. Your assignment is to develop an MS method by which you can prove the identity of the unknown compound found in the vial.

Similarly, they each have a different mass spectrum which can reveal information about the compound's mass and functional groups. The purpose of this particular study is to not only gain knowledge about the history and chemistry of the anesthetics but also how to use mass spectrometry to identify each based on the situation already presented. Your assignment is to develop a method by which you use the virtual mass spectrometer of choice to analyze the mass spectra of three unknown compounds and assign each spectrum to appropriate anesthetic investigated in this study.


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