Prof. Gregory HAMMER

Greg Hammer, MD, is a Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine and of Pediatrics in the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Hammer’s clinical focus is in pediatric cardiac anesthesia and critical care medicine. His research is in developmental pharmacology and immunology. He has published more than 200 scientific articles, over 40 chapters in core pediatric anesthesiology and pharmacology textbooks, and has been a Visiting Professor at over 40 institutions world-wide.

Dr. Hammer has had a long-standing interest in Wellness, including nutrition, physical fitness, meditation, and mindfulness practice. In 2020 he published an award-winning, best-selling book entitled, “GAIN Without Pain: The Happiness Handbook for Health Care Professionals.” He has been a member of the WellMD directive at Stanford and Chair of the Wellness Task Force for the California Society of Anesthesiologists. He is currently writing his 3rd book on Wellness, focused on teenagers. More info is available at greghammermd.com.

Anesthetic Neurotoxicity in the Developing Brain

Over 20 years ago seminal research identified adverse effects on the developing brain produced by anesthetic agents in young rodents. This led to widespread concern among pediatric anesthesiologists and other practitioners as well as parents of infants and toddlers presenting for surgery under general anesthesia. Almost all the sedative-hypnotic anesthetics we use have been implicated, including those that have agonist activity at the GABA receptor and antagonist activity at the NMDA receptor. During the past decade studies have been conducted in our patients that have yielded important insights into this problem. These include retrospective analyses of large groups of infants and toddlers exposed to general anesthetic agents who later underwent assessment of school performance and specific cognitive testing. More recently, prospective studies have been conducted that incorporate validated developmental metrics.

We will review the fascinating history of this topic beginning with early animal studies and then discuss recent studies and their conclusions as well as limitations.