A method is described for comparing the duration of active respiratory responses to irritation of the respiratory tract during anaesthesia with different agents. The reflex responses were more prolonged with cyclopropane and thiopentone than with nitrous oxide alone or halothane with nitrous oxide. Each agent was administered to five patients. Atropine sulphate 1.2 mg given intravenously in five cases before stimulation, failed to modify the responses during cyclopropane anaesthesia. The differences in the durations of response are unexplained. It is suggested that they are determined by the strength and duration of the stimulus, and by the effect of the anaesthetic agent on the sensitivities of the reflex arc and the respiratory centre.
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