Authors: Jukka Kortelainen, M.D., Ph.D. et al
Anesthesiology 1 2017, Vol.126, 94-103.
Background: Slow waves (less than 1 Hz) are the most important electroencephalogram signatures of nonrapid eye movement sleep. While considered to have a substantial importance in, for example, providing conditions for single-cell rest and preventing long-term neural damage, a disturbance in this neurophysiologic phenomenon is a potential indicator of brain dysfunction.
Methods: Since, in healthy individuals, slow waves can be induced with anesthetics, the authors tested the possible association between hypoxic brain injury and slow-wave activity in comatose postcardiac arrest patients (n = 10) using controlled propofol exposure. The slow-wave activity was determined by calculating the low-frequency (less than 1 Hz) power of the electroencephalograms recorded approximately 48 h after cardiac arrest. To define the association between the slow waves and the potential brain injury, the patients’ neurologic recovery was then followed up for 6 months.
Results: In the patients with good neurologic outcome (n = 6), the low-frequency power of electroencephalogram representing the slow-wave activity was found to substantially increase (mean ± SD, 190 ± 83%) due to the administration of propofol. By contrast, the patients with poor neurologic outcome (n = 4) were unable to generate propofol-induced slow waves.
Conclusions: In this experimental pilot study, the comatose postcardiac arrest patients with poor neurologic outcome were unable to generate normal propofol-induced electroencephalographic slow-wave activity 48 h after cardiac arrest. The finding might offer potential for developing a pharmacologic test for prognostication of brain injury by measuring the electroencephalographic response to propofol.
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