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  • 5th National Audit Project (NAP5) on accidental awareness during general anaesthesia: summary of main findings and risk factors.

    24 October 2018

    We present the main findings of the 5th National Audit Project (NAP5) on accidental awareness during general anaesthesia (AAGA). Incidences were estimated using reports of accidental awareness as the numerator, and a parallel national anaesthetic activity survey to provide denominator data. The incidence of certain/probable and possible accidental awareness cases was ~1:19,600 anaesthetics (95% confidence interval 1:16,700-23,450). However, there was considerable variation across subtypes of techniques or subspecialities. The incidence with neuromuscular block (NMB) was ~1:8200 (1:7030-9700), and without, it was ~1:135,900 (1:78,600-299,000). The cases of AAGA reported to NAP5 were overwhelmingly cases of unintended awareness during NMB. The incidence of accidental awareness during Caesarean section was ~1:670 (1:380-1300). Two-thirds (82, 66%) of cases of accidental awareness experiences arose in the dynamic phases of anaesthesia, namely induction of and emergence from anaesthesia. During induction of anaesthesia, contributory factors included: use of thiopental, rapid sequence induction, obesity, difficult airway management, NMB, and interruptions of anaesthetic delivery during movement from anaesthetic room to theatre. During emergence from anaesthesia, residual paralysis was perceived by patients as accidental awareness, and commonly related to a failure to ensure full return of motor capacity. One-third (43, 33%) of accidental awareness events arose during the maintenance phase of anaesthesia, mostly due to problems at induction or towards the end of anaesthesia. Factors increasing the risk of accidental awareness included: female sex, age (younger adults, but not children), obesity, anaesthetist seniority (junior trainees), previous awareness, out-of-hours operating, emergencies, type of surgery (obstetric, cardiac, thoracic), and use of NMB. The following factors were not risk factors for accidental awareness: ASA physical status, race, and use or omission of nitrous oxide. We recommend that an anaesthetic checklist, to be an integral part of the World Health Organization Safer Surgery checklist, is introduced as an aid to preventing accidental awareness. This paper is a shortened version describing the main findings from NAP5--the full report can be found at http://www.nationalauditprojects.org.uk/NAP5_home.

  • The obstetric RSI.

    24 October 2018

  • Interpretations of responses using the isolated forearm technique in general anaesthesia: a debate.

    24 October 2018

    The isolated forearm technique (IFT) enables an otherwise paralysed patient to communicate awareness to the anaesthetist. We present a debate that focuses on how best to interpret IFT responses. On one side, Pandit argues that there is a range of response types from none through to movement initiated by the patient to alert the researcher. He also presents a de novo numerical scale by which IFT responses could be classed. Each response type reflects the underlying mental state (degree of unconsciousness), and he concludes that the effect of general anaesthesia on patients is not binary but heterogeneous. There can be mental states resulting from anaesthesia that produce adequate levels of conscious impairment sufficient for surgery to proceed, but in which a degree of wakefulness, including a capacity for later recall, is retained (a state previously termed 'dysanaesthesia'). A literature review of IFT (31 trials) is presented to support this assertion. In rebuttal, Russell and Wang argue that IFT response types are not so discrete, and that the IFT technique precludes higher levels of response. They argue that overinterpretation of IFT responses might in fact result in a greater risk of accidental awareness; a binary interpretation of the IFT response is the safest option. All authors agree that the IFT has a role in clinical practice and the study of anaesthetic mechanisms.

  • Calculating the probability of random sampling for continuous variables in submitted or published randomised controlled trials.

    24 October 2018

    In a previous paper, one of the authors (JBC) used a chi-squared method to analyse the means (SD) of baseline variables, such as height or weight, from randomised controlled trials by Fujii et al., concluding that the probabilities that the reported distributions arose by chance were infinitesimally small. Subsequent testing of that chi-squared method, using simulation, suggested that the method was incorrect. This paper corrects the chi-squared method and tests its performance and the performance of Monte Carlo simulations and ANOVA to analyse the probability of random sampling. The corrected chi-squared method and ANOVA method became inaccurate when applied to means that were reported imprecisely. Monte Carlo simulations confirmed that baseline data from 158 randomised controlled trials by Fujii et al. were different to those from 329 trials published by other authors and that the distribution of Fujii et al.'s data were different to the expected distribution, both p < 10(-16) . The number of Fujii randomised controlled trials with unlikely distributions was less with Monte Carlo simulation than with the 2012 chi-squared method: 102 vs 117 trials with p < 0.05; 60 vs 86 for p < 0.01; 30 vs 56 for p < 0.001; and 12 vs 24 for p < 0.00001, respectively. The Monte Carlo analysis nevertheless confirmed the original conclusion that the distribution of the data presented by Fujii et al. was extremely unlikely to have arisen from observed data. The Monte Carlo analysis may be an appropriate screening tool to check for non-random (i.e. unreliable) data in randomised controlled trials submitted to journals.