For this first of a two-part article, anesthetic treatment modalities and specific drugs administered for third molar extractions were assessed to determine current office-based therapeutic practices. Questionnaires were mailed to a random national sample of 850 practicing oral surgeons. Survey design and pilot testing was conducted to assure clarity of questions and usefulness of responses. To maximize the response rate, two follow-up letters were sent to non-responders after the initial mailing. Completed questionnaires were returned by 563 practitioners (66.2% response rate). Practicing oral and maxillofacial surgeons were estimated to have performed an average of 52.7 third molar extraction surgery cases per month, using either general anesthesia (46.3%), intravenous conscious sedation (33.4%), nitrous oxide sedation (5.8%), oral sedation (1.7%), or local anesthesia alone (12.9%). For intravenous conscious sedation, a three-drug technique using midazolam, fentanyl, and propofol was reported most commonly. The most frequently selected local anesthetic formulations were 2% lidocaine, 1:100,000 epinephrine for surgical anesthesia and 0.5% bupivacaine, 1:200,000 epinephrine for postoperative pain management.
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