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Method to Detect When Patients Wake During Surgery Fails to Impress
Date:8/18/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- A newer technology intended to alert doctors when patients are regaining consciousness while under anesthesia is no better than conventional monitoring systems in lowering the incidence of "anesthesia awareness," new research shows.

In fact, the newer system -- which measures electrical activity in the brain and is known as bispectral index (BIS) monitoring -- actually picked up on fewer incidents than the standard system, which measures the amount of anesthesia when a patient exhales.

Anesthesia awareness takes place when a patient under general anesthesia can remember what happened during surgery. It occurs in up to 1 percent of high-risk patients, or 20,000 to 40,000 U.S. patients a year.

Researchers have pointed out that the standard system is also simpler and less expensive to use.

But that doesn't mean there isn't a place for the newer technology, said several scientists.

One expert said that BIS could be useful when used together with ETAC, which stands for "end-tidal anesthetic-agent concentration."

"This is not the be-all, end-all device, but I believe it's a useful piece of information used in conjunction with ETAC and everything else," said Dr. Mark D. Schlesinger, chairman of anesthesiology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. "You need multiple pieces of information."

Generally, systems to monitor awareness have focused on the cardio-respiratory system while those monitoring the nervous system have lagged behind.

"I think most practitioners believe that [BIS] can be useful in certain situations," added Dr. Russell K. McAllister, an associate professor of anesthesiology at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and an anesthesiologist with Scott & White in Temple.

Those situations might include patients who are getting intravenous anesthesia -- wh
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