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Awake-During-Surgery Device Worth a Nod?

Study Challenges Benefit of BIS, a Brain Monitor That Helps Doctors Detect When Patients Are Waking

What Anesthesiologists Tell Patients About Waking During Surgery

Orser worries that efforts to promote the BIS monitor are unduly alarming patients.

"This worry about anesthesia awareness is really frightening our patients, more than is in their interest," she says. "It is disappointing this device isn't the silver bullet for treating this. But I reassure patients that the incidence of anesthesia awareness is very low."

Avidan advises anesthesiologists to discuss the issue with patients prior to surgery and to urge patients to contact their doctors if they have uncomfortable memories after surgery.

WebMD asked Avidan what he says to patients who tell him they are worried about waking during surgery.

"I say, 'I guarantee I will do everything that has been clinically validated to reduce the risk. I will reduce the use of paralytic drugs -- because the scariest thing is being unable to move, and sometimes patients are given these more than is necessary. And I will give you a lot of pain medication so even if you do wake up, you will not experience any discomfort. Know that if you do wake up during surgery, it is usually brief and without discomfort. But if this does occur, and you feel you do remember things -- and I will ask you about this after surgery -- then I will refer you for professional counseling,'" Avidan says.

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