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Objective measurements of physiological parameters controlled by the autonomic nervous system such as blood pressure, heart rate and respiration are easily obtained nowadays during anaesthesia by the use of monitors: oscillometers, pulseoximeters, electrocardiograms and capnographs are available for laboratory animals. However, the effect-site of hypnotic drugs that cause general anaesthesia is the central nervous system (the brain). In the present, the adjustment of hypnotic drugs in veterinary anaesthesia is performed according to subjective evaluation of clinical signs which are not direct reflexes of anaesthetic effects on the brain, making depth of anaesthesia (DoA) assessment a complicated task. The difficulties in assessing the real anaesthetic state of a laboratory animal may not only result in welfare-threatening situations, such as awareness and pain sensation during surgery, but also in a lack of standardization of experimental conditions, as it is not easy to keep all animals from an experiment in the same DoA without a measure of anaesthetic effect. A direct measure of this dose-effect relationship, although highly necessary, is still missing in the veterinary market. Meanwhile, research has been intense in this subject and methods based on the brain electrical activity (electroencephalogram) have been explored in laboratory animal species. The objective of this review is to explain the achievements made in this topic and clarify how far we are from an objective measure of DoA for animals.


Aura Silva, Luis Antunes. Electroencephalogram-based anaesthetic depth monitoring in laboratory animals. Laboratory animals. 2012 Apr;46(2):85-94

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PMID: 22517991

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