March 1956

When Will He Wake Up?

Author Affiliations

Lincoln, Neb.

AMA Arch Surg. 1956;72(3):405-410. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1956.01270210035005

General anesthesia differs from natural sleep in that the person who is simply asleep can always be wakened immediately by stimulation, whereas the narcotized patient must go through a recovery period, during which the depressant drug is detoxified or excreted. During this period, it is not possible to waken him by simple methods or by any means at our command. In the absence of stimulation of any kind, of course, there is a certain similarity between the two, for both the sleeping person and the anesthetized patient will remain unconscious for fairly constant periods of time. "When will he wake up?" is a question that has too long remained unanswered and has usually been met with evasive, or at best inexact, replies. A series of 300 consecutive cases is offered here, comprising a study undertaken to answer this question.

In the first place, there was a healthy curiosity concerning the

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