Background and objective: To investigate and compare the performance of bispectral index (BIS) and auditory evoked response index (AAI) in detecting the transition from consciousness to unconsciousness during anaesthesia induction by propofol, alone and in combination with fentanyl.
Methods: Anaesthesia was induced with either an intravenous infusion of 30 mg kg−1 h−1 of propofol plus 2 μg kg−1 of fentanyl (Group PF, n = 20) or an intravenous infusion of 30 mg kg−1 h−1 of propofol plus normal saline (Group P, n = 20). BIS, AAI and the doses of propofol administered were recorded at the end-point of unresponsiveness to verbal commands. The propofol plasma concentration was also measured.
Results: The propofol dose and plasma propofol concentration required to achieve loss of consciousness were significantly lower in patients pretreated with fentanyl (P < 0.001). The mean BIS value at loss of consciousness was significantly different between the two groups (74.10 in Group PF vs. 60.80 in Group P) (P < 0.001). However, no difference in the AAI was seen between the two groups at loss of consciousness (32.90 in Group PF vs. 31.80 in Group P) (P > 0.05). In both groups, the regression analysis values (r-values) between BIS and plasma propofol concentrations at the onset of unconsciousness were higher than those between AAI and propofol concentrations (0.553 vs. 0.180 in Group P; 0.432 vs. 0.308 in Group PF).
Conclusions: These results show that a fentanyl bolus is effective in augmenting the hypnotic effect of propofol during anaesthesia induction. AAI appears to be able to measure the transition from consciousness to unconsciousness at similar values, regardless of whether or not fentanyl pretreatment is used whereas the BIS values were not independent of fentanyl pretreatment. This suggests that AAI may be a better indicator of conscious status during propofol/fentanyl anaesthesia, where it appears to be independent of the anaesthesia regimen.