This is Science Today. A new study has found that
boosting up the oxygen during surgical procedures
can cut a patient's risk of post-operative infection
in half. Lead author Dr. Daniel Sessler, a professor
of anesthesia at the University of California, San
Francisco, says white blood cells called neutrophils
need oxygen to kill the bacteria that cause infection.
Sessler: The killing actually uses oxygen.
It takes oxygen and turns it into something called
a free radical, which is actually a poisonous substance,
which is then injected into the bacteria to kill them.
The speed of this process depends on the amount of
oxygen in the tissues.
Narrator: All it takes during surgery is turning
two knobs up and supplying the patient with about
three cents worth more oxygen.
Sessler: Most patients do not get infected
after surgery. Surgical infections are relatively
rare, but they are very serious, very expensive complications.
So, decreasing the incidence of this complication
is well worth doing.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.