Maintaining brain function and integrity is a pivotal part of anesthesiological practice. The present overview aims to describe the current role of the 2 most frequently used monitoring methods for evaluation brain function in the perioperative period, ie, electroencephalography (EEG) and brain oxygenation monitoring. Available evidence suggests that EEG-derived parameters give additional information about depth of anesthesia for optimizing anesthetic titration. The effects on reduction of drug consumption or recovery time are heterogeneous, but most studies show a reduction of recovery times if anesthesia is titrated along processed EEG. It has been hypothesized that future EEG-derived indices will allow a better understanding of the neurophysiological principles of anesthetic-induced alteration of consciousness instead of the probabilistic approach most often used nowadays.
Brain oxygenation can be either measured directly in brain parenchyma via a surgical burr hole, estimated from the venous outflow of the brain via a catheter in the jugular bulb, or assessed noninvasively by near-infrared spectroscopy. The latter method has increasingly been accepted clinically due to its ease of use and increasing evidence that near-infrared spectroscopy–derived cerebral oxygen saturation levels are associated with neurological and/or general perioperative complications and increased mortality. Furthermore, a goal-directed strategy aiming to avoid cerebral desaturations might help to reduce these complications. Recent evidence points out that this technology may additionally be used to assess autoregulation of cerebral blood flow and thereby help to titrate arterial blood pressure to the individual needs and for bedside diagnosis of disturbed autoregulation.