BRISTOL – It’s an uncommon complication but a common fear. Patients scheduled to undergo surgery are often afraid of “waking up” during the procedure.

State-of-the-art technology recently installed at Bristol Regional Medical Center is helping to prevent such recall. The Bispectral Index – or BIS – monitor helps ensure surgery patients receive a dose of anesthesia specifically tailored to meet their individual needs.

The BIS monitor allows anesthesiologists to continually assess a patient’s level of consciousness throughout surgery and make fine-tuned adjustments to the types and quantities of anesthetic drugs administered, thereby decreasing the chance of the recall that can occur with too little anesthesia and the post-surgery side effects that can result from too much. BRMC is the first hospital in the region to install the cutting-edge equipment.

“No patient wants to receive too little anesthesia and wake up during surgery or, on the other hand, get more anesthetic than he or she needs,” said Marilyn Goldstein, MD, an anesthesiologist at Bristol Anesthesia Services. “With this new technology, we can help decrease the chances of any recall or awareness and, at the same time, help our patients wake up more quickly and feel more clear-headed after surgery.”

The BIS monitor uses a non-invasive sensor that is placed on the patient’s forehead to continuously monitor brain waves during surgery. The brain waves are computed into a number ranging from 100 to zero that correlates with the patient’s level of consciousness – 100 is wide awake and below 60 is typically unconscious.

The BIS system is the first and only technology approved by the Food and Drug Administration to provide a direct measure of assessing consciousness during surgery. Anesthesiologists have traditionally relied on bodily responses such as blood pressure and pulse rate to gauge a patient’s response to anesthesia, but until now there has been no way to specifically monitor brain activity.

“We think down the road this is going to become a standard of care,” Dr. Goldstein said. “By having the equipment in place now, Bristol Regional is looking ahead to the future.”


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