Study Examines Effect of Anesthesia Depth on Long-Term Mortality

More research is needed to determine whether minimizing anesthetic exposure will improve outcomes in vulnerable patients, according to a study published in Anesthesiology that examined the effect of anesthesia depth on long-term mortality.

The study, titled "Pick up the Pieces: Depth of Anesthesia and Long-term Mortality," examined whether there was a possible causal, rather than purely statistical, association between deep anesthesia and long-term outcomes. The study reviewed various randomized clinical studies and determined that several issues — including the effect of other potential causes on the outcome of each study and the complex associations among individual predictors such as advanced comorbidities — make it difficult to determine the relationship between deep anesthesia and patient outcomes.

The study concluded that current data suggests anesthesiologists should not change their current practice or strive to walk the thin line between "deep anesthesia" and risk of awareness. However, adequately powered randomized trials are necessary to determine the effect of anesthesia depth on vulnerable patients.

Read the Anesthesiology report on anesthesia depth and mortality.

Read more on anesthesia:

-ASA Meets With CMS Administrator Dr. Don Berwick

-Letter to NYTimes Discusses Merits of Calling Anesthesia a "Coma"

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