Anesthesia may be an exact science, but it's not yet fully personalized. Anesthesiologists use a variety of methods to calculate the right dose for a given patient. However, every individual responds to anesthetics in a different way, and there's no way of knowing what that response will be until the anesthetic is administered.
Today patients often receive supplemental doses of an anesthetic during their operation based on their reaction. In reality, the supplemental doses are administered with no knowledge of what the actual drug concentration already is in the patient.
To solve that problem, researchers have developed a system that can measure propofol concentration in patients as they're being operated on and adjust the doses they're administered accordingly. "Scientists have been working for years to develop sensors that can instantly measure blood concentrations of compounds in anesthetized patients so that doctors can personalize the doses," says the author. "Propofol is one of the main compounds used in anesthesia, but it's also one of the hardest to measure."
The researchers' device looks like a huge syringe. Its needle contains sensor electrodes that measure propofol concentrations in a patient's blood, while the electronics for the sensors are contained in a central control box. The sensors' measurements are analyzed using artificial intelligence.
"Propofol is one of the best anesthetics out there, but getting the dosage just right can be complicated. So an easy-to-use system that can monitor propofol concentrations in the operating room would be a major step forward in surgery and intensive care."
The researchers have confirmed the accuracy of their device through in vitro tests on human blood samples. The next step will be to conduct tests in vivo.
IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems