Dissociative anesthesia is a form of anesthesia characterized by catalepsy, catatonia, analgesia, and amnesia. It does not necessarily involve loss of consciousness and thus does not always imply a state of general anesthesia. Dissociative anesthetics probably produce this state by interfering with the transmission of incoming sensory signals to the cerebral cortex and by interfering with communication between different parts of the central nervous system.
Most dissociative anesthetics are members of the phenyl cyclohexamine group of chemicals. Agents from this group were first used in clinical practice in the 1950s. Early experience with agents from this group, such as phencyclidine and cyclohexamine hydrochloride, showed an unacceptably high incidence of inadequate anesthesia, convulsions, and psychotic symptoms (Pender 1971). These agents never entered routine clinical practice, but phencyclidine (phenylcyclohexylpiperidine, commonly...
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