We don’t worry during surgery, because we know we won’t feel the pain. We’ll be asleep?and kept that way by anesthesia. But did you know that the doctors who use it don’t really understand how, or why, it works?

Even anesthesiologists don?t know what happens in the brain that makes people totally immobile and allows them not to feel pain. Anesthesiologist Emery Brown is trying to figure it all out.

He and his colleagues tested twelve patients who have breathing tubes, due to tracheostomies, so their breathing would be easier to regulate. The patients were given various anesthetic drugs then asked to respond to commands by pressing a button. When they stopped responding, meaning that that they were deeply asleep, the researchers monitored their brains with MRIs and EEGs, trying to figure out what exactly was happening.

In LiveScience.com, Abigail W. Leonard quotes Brown as saying, “A large reason that we have problems is because of side effects from the agent acting somewhere other than where we want it to. It makes the brain go to sleep, but it also depresses the heart, dilates blood vessels, and makes it more difficult to breathe.” By doing these experiments, he wants to develop drugs that work only in the areas of the brain feel pain and control movement (since a surgeon can’t operate on a moving body), and leave everything else alone.

If YOU breathe through a hole in your throat, would you have participated in this research? In LiveScience.com, Robert Roy Britt reports that unbeknownst to participants, doctors are often paid large sums of money by drug companies to conduct clinical trials. While you might agree to participate anyway, it’s something you should know.

Researchers Trudo Lemmens and Paul Miller discovered an experimental cancer drug study done at a VA hospital in upstate New York in which five patients died. Their research shows that these patients’ medical records were actually altered so that they could be enrolled in the testing, because they were actually too sick (or too healthy!) to qualify otherwise. The hospital received $5,000 for each patient who participated in the test.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

Many of the people we’re in touch with feel that THEY’VE been experimented on without their permission?and not by human doctors, either!

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