Study looks at patients who wake up during surgery

March 12, 2008 2:52:59 PM PDT
It happens rarely, but some patients wake up during surgery and experience intense pain but are unable to cry out to doctors.

Special brain wave monitors to track patients' consciousness were thought to be a good way to prevent "anesthesia awareness." Now, the first large, independent test of the devices show they're no better than older technology.

Researchers from Washington University followed 2,000 patients using the new monitors. Two woke up. That's the same number of patients who woke up when only they're anesthesia levels were monitored.

Scientists hope that in the future a better understanding of how anesthetic drugs work in the body will result in fewer awakenings.