Special Articles  |   July 2018
History of the Development of Anesthesia for the Dolphin: A Quest to Study a Brain as Large as Man’s
Author Notes
  • From Aerospace, Hyperbaric and Undersea Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (J.G.M.); Department of Pathology, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California (S.H.R.); and National Marine Mammal Foundation, San Diego, California (S.H.R.).
  • Submitted for publication November 16, 2017. Accepted for publication March 9, 2018.
    Submitted for publication November 16, 2017. Accepted for publication March 9, 2018.×
  • Address correspondence to Dr. McCormick: Department of Anesthesiology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd., Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157-1009. jmccormi@wakehealth.edu. Information on purchasing reprints may be found at www.anesthesiology.org or on the masthead page at the beginning of this issue. Anesthesiology’s articles are made freely accessible to all readers, for personal use only, 6 months from the cover date of the issue.
Article Information
Special Articles / Airway Management / Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems / Respiratory System / Technology / Equipment / Monitoring
Special Articles   |   July 2018
History of the Development of Anesthesia for the Dolphin: A Quest to Study a Brain as Large as Man’s
Anesthesiology 7 2018, Vol.129, 11-21. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002213
Anesthesiology 7 2018, Vol.129, 11-21. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002213
Abstract

It is important for academic-minded human anesthesiologists to have an interdisciplinary perspective when engaging in cutting-edge research as well as the practice of human anesthesiology. This was a philosophy promoted by Dr. Robert Dripps, former pioneering Chairman of the Anesthesiology Department at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). Many human and veterinary anesthesiologists as well as biomedical engineers and neuroscientists benefited from Dr. Dripps’s constructive outlook personified in the quest to develop dolphin anesthesiology.

The motivation to anesthetize dolphins came from the fact that scientists and physicians wanted to study the brain of the dolphin, a brain as large as man’s. Also, investigators wanted to develop anesthesia for the dolphin in order to study the electrophysiology of the dolphin’s highly sophisticated auditory system, which facilitates the dolphin’s amazing echolocation capability.

Dolphin anesthesia involves a complex matter of unique neural control, airway anatomy, neuromuscular control of respiration, and sleep behavior.