Age affects brain’s response to anesthesia | Science News

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Age affects brain’s response to anesthesia

Right dose may depend on differences between young and old

11:47am, July 28, 2015
person with breathing mask on

CASE FOR CAUTION  Anesthetics hit young and old brains differently, studies suggest. 

Anesthesia elicits different patterns of brain waves in the very young and very old, scientists have found. Understanding these distinctions may ultimately lead to brain monitors that could make surgery safer for these vulnerable patient populations. 

These findings are groundbreaking, says neuroanesthesiologist Stacie Deiner of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. The studies explain why brain monitors — typically geared for adults and currently used by some clinicians during surgery — may not work well for the young and the elderly, she says. “It’s a real back-to-the-drawing-board-type moment.”

The new results come largely from electroencephalograms (EEGs), which use electrodes on the scalp to detect various kinds of brain waves. Anesthesia-induced brain waves vary dramatically over a person’s life span, the studies show.  “It’s a huge step forward in understanding how anesthetics work in

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