The practice of death by lethal injection is a controversial one. But whether or not you believe in its use, the science behind the method is very interesting. The article from ScienceLine goes into the controversy and ethics of this process. This method involves a series of three shots to be administered in a particular order, all through an intravenous drip. The three shots each affect different aspects of the body and are administered in order to ensure that the individual feels no pain.
The first injection is sodium thiopental. This is an anesthetic that quickly puts the individual into a state of unconsciousness so deep that they will not be able to feel pain. This anesthetic works by suppressing the activity of the CNS (central nervous system) as opposed to just numbing pain in the nerves. The sodium thiopental also amplifies GABA which is a neurotransmitter that suppresses brain activity. This complex state of unconsciousness can be reached in as little as 30 seconds. The dose administered is theoretically large enough to keep the individual under throughout the process. Around 5,000mg are administered during executions as opposed to around 150mg for a 15 minute surgery.
A saline solution is then administered through the drip. After that, a neuromuscular blocker, is administered. This chemical prevents the nerves from communicating with the muscles. This prevents the muscles from moving and subsequently, as the diaphragm can no longer contract, causes the lungs to stop working. Another dose of saline is administered before the next step.
The last chemical administered is . This chemical fills the heart with charged particles that stop the heart from beating by interrupting the signals. These three chemicals together, administered in this order, effectively numb the body, inhibit the lungs, and inhibit the heart.
Posted By Erica Bonnell(1)