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Southampton Health Technology Assessments CentreNews

Monitoring the depth of general anaesthesia - new research by SHTAC

Published: 14 November 2011
Depth of anaesthesia

SHTAC is assessing the clinical-effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of technologies to monitor the depth of anaesthesia (E-entropy, Bispectral Index, and Narcotrend) for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

SHTAC has recently started work on a systematic review and economic evaluation for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) on the clinical-effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of devices to monitor the depth of anaesthesia. Patients undergoing general anaesthesia for operations usually have their vital signs and other markers checked throughout the operation to ensure that, amongst other things, they are sufficiently unconscious. However, observation of vital signs and markers may not always accurately indicate unconsciousness and consequently devices have been developed to measure and interpret patient electrical brain activity. Most of these use a ‘module' which measures brain activity via sensors placed on the patient's forehead. The module is linked to a monitor which visually displays the output (e.g. a numerical scale) which the anaesthetist then uses to judge depth of unconsciousness, and adjust the dose of anaesthetic if necessary. The three devices being assessed are E-entropy, Bispectral Index, and Narcotrend.

This is the first topic that SHTAC has undertaken for NICE's recently launched Diagnostics Assessment Programme. NICE is expected to issue guidance to the NHS on the use of depth of anaesthesia monitoring in October 2012.

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