The Differences in Electroencephalographic Changes in Patients Undergoing Carotid Endarterectomies while under Local versus General Anesthesia

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This study compared the electroencephalographic (EEG) changes occurring during carotid occlusion in 225 consecutive patients undergoing carotid endarterectomies performed by two surgeons, one using local and the other using general anesthesia.


A retrospective review of patients undergoing carotid endarterectomies for carotid occlusive disease was conducted. EEG changes associated with intraoperative ischemia (decreased amplitude, generalized slowing, and loss of fast activity) resulting in the need for an indwelling arterial shunt were recorded for the two anesthesia groups. To determine the similarities or differences between the two groups, the groups were compared regarding age, risk factors, and indications for surgery.


Significant EEG changes were noted in 6 of 96 patients (6.3%) in the local anesthesia group versus 19 of 121 patients (15.7%) in the general anesthesia group. EEG changes consisted solely of generalized slowing in the local anesthesia group, whereas a more varied spectrum was observed in the general anesthesia group. The two groups were similar regarding age and risk factors. Although the local anesthesia group had more asymptomatic patients, symptomatic patients did not have a greater incidence of EEG changes.


There is a large difference in EEG changes potentially requiring shunt placement in patients undergoing surgery while under local (6.3%) versus general (15.7%) anesthesia. This could not be explained based on age, risk factors, interpretation of EEG findings, or indications between the two groups. We conclude that EEG monitoring may be insensitive and may fail to detect ischemia in patients who are under regional anesthesia. Alternately, the presence of general anesthetics may alter the character of the EEG findings and increase the sensitivity of EEG monitoring to ischemic events.

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