Entropy and bispectral index for assessment of sedation, analgesia and the effects of unpleasant stimuli in critically ill patients: An observational study

Matthias Haenggi, Heidi Ypparila-Wolters, Christine Bieri, Carola Steiner, Jukka Takala, Ilkka Korhonen, Stephen M. Jakob (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Sedative and analgesic drugs are frequently used in critically ill patients. Their overuse may prolong mechanical ventilation and length of stay in the intensive care unit. Guidelines recommend use of sedation protocols that include sedation scores and trials of sedation cessation to minimize drug use. We evaluated processed electroencephalography (response and state entropy and bispectral index) as an adjunct to monitoring effects of commonly used sedative and analgesic drugs and intratracheal suctioning.

Methods: Electrodes for monitoring bispectral index and entropy were placed on the foreheads of 44 critically ill patients requiring mechanical ventilation and who previously had no brain dysfunction. Sedation was targeted individually using the Ramsay Sedation Scale, recorded every 2 hours or more frequently. Use of and indications for sedative and analgesic drugs and intratracheal suctioning were recorded manually and using a camera. At the end of the study, processed electroencephalographical and haemodynamic variables collected before and after each drug application and tracheal suctioning were analyzed. Ramsay score was used for comparison with processed electroencephalography when assessed within 15 minutes of an intervention.

Results: The indications for boli of sedative drugs exhibited statistically significant, albeit clinically irrelevant, differences in terms of their association with processed electroencephalographical parameters. Electroencephalographical variables decreased significantly after bolus, but a specific pattern in electroencephalographical variables before drug administration was not identified. The same was true for opiate administration. At both 30 minutes and 2 minutes before intratracheal suctioning, there was no difference in electroencephalographical or clinical signs in patients who had or had not received drugs 10 minutes before suctioning. Among patients who received drugs, electroencephalographical parameters returned to baseline more rapidly. In those cases in which Ramsay score was assessed before the event, processed electroencephalography exhibited high variation.

Conclusions: Unpleasant or painful stimuli and sedative and analgesic drugs are associated with significant changes in processed electroencephalographical parameters. However, clinical indications for drug administration were not reflected by these electroencephalographical parameters, and barely by sedation level before drug administration or tracheal suction. This precludes incorporation of entropy and bispectral index as target variables for sedation and analgesia protocols in critically ill patients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Care
Publication statusPublished - 2008
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • sedation
  • analgesia


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