Each year, millions of children undergo anesthesia, but important questions remain about how anesthesia might affect children’s early brain development.
In a recent paper published on January 13 in Anesthesia & Analgesia, Jerry Chao, M.D., M.S., and colleagues used electroencephalography to assess brain wave voltage (a measure of brain activity) in 54 infants under anesthesia for noncardiac surgery. Twenty of the infants (37%) were found to have electroencephalogram (EEG) discontinuity, or decreased brain wave voltage, while anesthetized. This was associated with their level of 8-12 Hz (alpha frequency) activity, which is thought to reflect the degree of thalamocortical brain connectivity (i.e., the connection between the thalamus and cortex) in the first year of life. This association was observed even after taking into account the type of anesthetic and the dose administered. The authors noted that the clinical significance of EEG discontinuity during pediatric anesthesia for noncardiac surgery is not yet known and merits further research to clarify the mechanisms through which anesthesia influences brain function to help guide clinical care for children undergoing anesthesia.
Dr. Chao is an associate professor of anesthesiology at Einstein and an attending physician at Montefiore.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 01, 2022