This paper examines our current understanding of the phenomena of emergence delirium, which can occur following general anesthesia. Much research has been conducted to elucidate the causative factors of this condition, with findings ranging from anxiety to volatile agents and the neurodevelopment of the brain (Aono, Ueda, & Mamiya, 1997; Kain et al., 2004; McLott, Jurecic, Hemphill, & Dunn, 2013). While much of our understanding of emergence delirium has come from studying children, who are more prone to this condition, we can attempt to learn even more by examining the increased incidence of emergence delirium that occurs in those with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD (Lovestrand, Phipps, & Lovestrand, 2013). Not only has our understanding of brain structure and function increased in recent years, but our improved ability to target specific receptors with pharmacological agents has also enabled us to discover ways to lessen the incidence of this upsetting and potentially dangerous response to general anesthesia (Dahmani et al., 2010). Current treatments that target GABA, opioid and alpha-2 receptors appear to demonstrate the greatest effect, however, there is wide variability within these receptor classes and various side effects that must also be considered. Individual genetic variations in receptor subtypes only complicates the picture, and may be the focus of future research as our understanding of and attention to the human genome increases.
Currie, Peter, "Understanding And Treating Emergence Delirium" (2015). Nurse Anesthesia Capstones. 4.