‘Depth of anaesthesia’ monitors claim to measure hypnotic depth during general anaesthesia from the EEG, and clinicians could reasonably expect agreement between monitors if presented with the same EEG signal. We took 52 EEG signals showing intraoperative patterns of diminished anaesthesia, similar to those that occur during emergence (after surgery) and subjected them to analysis by five commercially available monitors.
We compared five monitors (BIS, Entropy-SE, Narcotrend, qCON, and Sedline) to see if index values remained within, or moved out of, each monitors’ recommended index range for general anaesthesia for at least 2 min during a period of supposed lighter anaesthesia, as observed by changes in the EEG spectrogram obtained in a previous study.
Of the 52 cases, 27 (52%) had at least one monitor warning of potentially inadequate hypnosis (index above range) and 16 of the 52 cases (31%) had at least one monitor signifying excessive hypnotic depth (index below clinical range). Of the 52 cases, only 16 (31%) showed concordance between all five monitors. Nineteen cases (36%) had one monitor discordant compared with the remaining four, and 17 cases (33%) had two monitors in disagreement with the remaining three.
Many clinical providers still rely on index values and manufacturer’s recommended ranges for titration decision making. That two-thirds of cases showed discordant recommendations given identical EEG data, and that one-third signified excessive hypnotic depth where the EEG would suggest a lighter hypnotic state, emphasizes the importance of personalised EEG interpretation as an essential clinical skill.