Sedation during spinal anesthesia

Anesthesiology. 2000 Sep;93(3):728-34. doi: 10.1097/00000542-200009000-00022.


Background: Central neuraxial anesthesia has been reported to decrease the dose of both intravenous and inhalational anesthetics needed to reach a defined level of sedation. The mechanism behind this phenomenon is speculated to be decreased afferent stimulation of the reticular activating system. The authors performed a two-part study (nonrandomized pilot study and a subsequent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study) using the Bispectral Index (BIS) monitor to quantify the degree of sedation in unmedicated volunteers undergoing spinal anesthesia.

Methods: Twelve volunteers underwent BIS monitoring and observer sedation scoring (Observer's Assessment of Alertness/Sedation Scale [OAA/S]) before and after spinal anesthesia with 50 mg hyperbaric lidocaine, 5%. Subsequently, 16 volunteers blinded to the study were randomized to receive spinal anesthesia with 50 mg hyperbaric lidocaine, 5% (n = 10) or placebo (n = 6) and underwent BIS and OAA/S monitoring.

Results: In part I, significant changes in BIS scores of the volunteers occurred progressively (P = 0.003). The greatest variations from baseline BIS measurement occurred at 30 and 70 min. In part II, there were significant decreases in OAA/S and self-sedation scores for patients receiving spinal anesthesia versuscontrol patients (P = 0.04 and 0. 01, respectively). The greatest decrease in OAA/S scores occurred at 60 min. BIS scores were similar between groups (P = 0.4).

Conclusions: Spinal anesthesia is accompanied by significant sedation progressively when compared with controls as measured by OAA/S and self-sedation scores. This effect was not related to block height. The late sedation observed by OAA/S at 60 min may indicate a second mechanism of sedation, such as delayed rostral spread of local anesthetics. BIS was not a sensitive measure of the sedation associated with spinal anesthesia in the randomized, blinded portion of this study.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, Spinal*
  • Consciousness*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lidocaine / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Lidocaine