Background: Target-controlled infusions (TCI) are used to simplify administration and increase precision of i.v. drugs during general anaesthesia. However, there is a limited relationship between preset targets and measured concentrations of drugs and between measured concentrations and measures of brain function, such as the bispectral index (BIS).
Methods: We set out to evaluate the performance of TCI devices for propofol (Diprifusor) and remifentanil (Remifusor, prototype), during laparoscopic cholecystectomy in 21 patients. We also checked if there was any correlation between serum concentrations of propofol and BIS during individually adjusted anaesthesia.
Results: The Diprifusor and Remifusor had a median absolute performance error of 60% and 25% respectively. Propofol concentrations were underpredicted by a median of 60%, and remifentanil concentrations were slightly overpredicted by a median of 7%. When anaesthesia was adjusted to keep BIS values between 45 and 60, no correlation existed between measured concentrations of propofol and the corresponding BIS values, although both BIS and serum propofol concentration discriminated well between the awake and asleep states. Emergence was rapid and uneventful in all patients. Female patients had a more rapid emergence than male patients (6.6 and 11.6 min respectively).
Conclusions: TCI devices for remifentanil and propofol result in large variation in measured serum concentrations. The lack of correlation between BIS and serum concentrations of propofol adds to the debate about whether BIS measures hypnosis as a graded state during surgery. This study confirms that women wake up faster than men, but provides no explanation for this repeatedly shown difference.