Medicine: Operational Hazard

Whether routine, like a tonsillectomy, or major, like a kidney transplant, surgery always poses a hazard for the patient. But those performing or assisting in the operation may also be taking a risk. A study released last week by the American Society of Anesthesiologists points out that operating-room personnel are more likely than others to develop cancer and kidney and liver disease, suffer miscarriages or have children with birth defects. The probable cause: anesthetic gases.

Doctors have long suspected that even small amounts of such gases, including nitrous oxide and halothane, may be harmful...

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