Balanced anaesthesia results published

The results of a 10-year study on anaesthetic depth and complications after major surgery have been published in The Lancet.

Anaesthetic depth and complications after major surgery: Publication of the balanced anaesthesia study results 

The much-anticipated results of the balanced anaesthesia study, "Anaesthetic depth and complications after major surgery: An international, randomised controlled trial", have been published in the prestigious general medical journal The Lancet. This brings to fruition 10 years of intense effort by the study team and the ANZCA Clinical Trials Network, with funding from the ANZCA Foundation and national funding bodies in New Zealand, Australia and internationally.

Observational studies suggested that deep anaesthesia was associated with worse outcomes than light anaesthesia, but evidence from a large randomised controlled trial was lacking. The Balanced Anaesthesia Study randomised 6640 patients who were aged 60 years and over, with significant co-morbidity, to deep (bispectral index = 35) or light (bispectral index = 50) general anaesthesia.

There were no significant differences in one-year mortality (7.2 per cent in the deep group versus 6.5 per cent in the light group) or any of the secondary outcomes, and there was only one case of awareness (in the light group).

These results are great news, because they define a broad range of anaesthetic depth over which anaesthetists can titrate anaesthesia to meet the individual needs of each patient. They are also another example of the power of the ANZCA Foundation and the ANZCA Clinical Trials Network to deliver evidence that guides care and helps in improves patients’ lives.
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