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Accidental awareness during general anaesthesia - a narrative review

Tasbihgou, S. R., Vogels, M. F. & Absalom, A. R. Jan-2018 In : Anaesthesia. 73, 1, p. 112-122 11 p.

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewReview article

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  • Accidental awareness during general anaesthesia – a narrative review

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DOI

Unintended accidental awareness during general anaesthesia represents failure of successful anaesthesia, and so has been the subject of numerous studies during the past decades. As return to consciousness is both difficult to describe and identify, the reported incidence rates vary widely. Similarly, a wide range of techniques have been employed to identify cases of accidental awareness. Studies which have used the isolated forearm technique to identify responsiveness to command during intended anaesthesia have shown remarkably high incidences of awareness. For example, the ConsCIOUS-1 study showed an incidence of responsiveness around the time of laryngoscopy of 1:25. On the other hand, the 5th Royal College of Anaesthetists National Audit Project, which reported the largest ever cohort of patients who had experienced accidental awareness, used a system to identify patients who spontaneously self-reported accidental awareness. In this latter study, the incidence of accidental awareness was 1:19,600. In the recently published SNAP-1 observational study, in which structured postoperative interviews were performed, the incidence was 1:800. In almost all reported cases of intra-operative responsiveness, there was no subsequent explicit recall of intra-operative events. To date, there is no evidence that this occurrence has any psychological consequences. Among patients who experience accidental awareness and can later remember details of their experience, the consequences are better known. In particular, when awareness occurs in a patient who has been given neuromuscular blocking agents, it may result in serious sequelae such as symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and a permanent aversion to surgery and anaesthesia, and is feared by patients and anaesthetists. In this article, the published literature on the incidence, consequences and management of accidental awareness under general anaesthesia with subsequent recall will be reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-122
Number of pages11
JournalAnaesthesia
Volume73
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan-2018

    Keywords

  • accidental awareness, awareness during general anaesthesia, complications, consciousness, general anaesthesia, ISOLATED-FOREARM-TECHNIQUE, POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER, INTRAOPERATIVE AWARENESS, BISPECTRAL INDEX, RISK-FACTORS, PATIENT SATISFACTION, SURGICAL POPULATION, EXPLICIT RECALL, CONSCIOUSNESS, INTUBATION

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