The incidence of asthma is increasing worldwide, but morbidity and mortality are decreasing, because of improvements in medical care. Although the incidence of severe perioperative bronchospasm is relatively low in asthmatics undergoing anaesthesia, when it does occur it may be life-threatening. Preoperative assessment of asthma should include a specialized medical hystory and physical examination as well as pulmonary function testing. Potential trigger agents should be identified and avoided. In many asthmatic patients treatment with systemic corticosteroids and bronchodilators is indicated to prevent the inflammation and bronchocostriction associated with endotracheal intubation. Nonetheless, acute bronchospasm can still occur, especially at induction and emergence, and should be promptly and methodically managed.
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