Anesthetic Implications of Ebola Patient Management: A Review of the Literature and Policies

Andres Missair, Michael J. Marino, Catherine N. Vu, Juan Gutierrez, Alfredo Missair, Brian Osman, Ralf E. Gebhard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


As of mid-October 2014, the ongoing Ebola epidemic in Western Africa has affected approximately 10,000 patients, approached a 50% mortality rate, and crossed political and geographic borders without precedent. The disease has spread throughout Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Isolated cases have arrived in urban centers in Europe and North America. The exponential growth, currently unabated, highlights the urgent need for effective and immediate management protocols for the various health care subspecialties that may care for Ebola virus disease patients. We conducted a comprehensive review of the literature to identify key areas of anesthetic care affected by this disease. The serious potential for “high-risk exposure” and “direct contact” (as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) of anesthesiologists caring for Ebola patients prompted this urgent investigation. A search was conducted using MEDLINE/PubMed, MeSH, Cochrane Review, and Google Scholar. Key words included “anesthesia” and/or “ebola” combined with “surgery,” “intubation,” “laryngoscopy,” “bronchoscopy,” “stethoscope,” “ventilation,” “ventilator,” “phlebotomy,” “venous cannulation,” “operating room,” “personal protection,” “equipment,” “aerosol,” “respiratory failure,” or “needle stick.” No language or date limits were applied. We also included secondary-source data from government organizations and scientific societies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, American Society of Anesthesiologists, and American College of Surgeons. Articles were reviewed for primary-source data related to inpatient management of Ebola cases as well as evidence-based management guidelines and protocols for the care of Ebola patients in the operative room, infection control, and health care worker personal protection. Two hundred thirty-six articles were identified using the aforementioned terminology in the scientific database search engines. Twenty articles met search criteria for information related to inpatient Ebola virus disease management or animal virology studies as primary or secondary sources. In addition, 9 articles met search criteria as tertiary sources, representing published guidelines. The recommendations developed in this article are based on these 29 source documents. Anesthesia-specific literature regarding the care of Ebola patients is very limited. Secondary-source guidelines and policies represent the majority of available information. Data from controlled animal experiments and tuberculosis patient research provide some evidence for the existing recommendations and identify future guideline considerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-821
Number of pages12
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 26 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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