Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Automated Anesthesia

PostedJanuary 19, 2014

Download File (mp3)

Anchor Lead: We don’t think twice about boarding a plane for a long auto-piloted flight. But when you’re under anesthesia, for no matter how long, it’s manually controlled.

Randy Atkins: Some treatments require patients to undergo sedation lasting many days. That inspired Emery Brown, an anesthesiologist and medical engineering professor at M-I-T, to create a computer-controlled anesthesia system. Just like the auto-pilot in a plane…

Emery Brown: …if something were disrupted or an alarm went off the anesthesia controller would relinquish control and allow the nurse or physician to take it over.

Randy Atkins: Brown says neurologists easily recognize a deeply anesthetized brain.

Emery Brown: You can actually see it very readily in the patient’s brain waves. So building a controller to control that state in a precise way is an excellent starting point.

Randy Atkins: Brown has already shown it works in animals. Ultimately, he says, computer control will surely result in using fewer drugs to get the same results. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.