Background: This study aimed to characterize the electroencephalogram in children who emerged with emergence delirium (ED) compared with children without ED using methods that involved the assessment of cortical functional connectivity.
Methods: Children aged 5 to 15 yr had multichannel electroencephalographic recordings during induction and emergence from anesthesia during minor surgical procedures. Of these, five children displayed ED after sevoflurane anesthesia. Measures of cortical functional connectivity previously used to evaluate anesthetic action in adults were compared between ED and age-, sex-, and anesthetic-matched non-ED children during emergence from anesthesia.
Results: At the termination of sevoflurane anesthesia, the electroencephalogram in both ED and control patients showed delta frequency slowing and frontally dominant alpha activity, followed by a prolonged state with low-voltage, fast frequency activity (referred to as an indeterminate state). In children with ED, arousal with delirious behavior and a variety of electroencephalogram patterns occurred during the indeterminate state, before the appearance of normal wake or sleep patterns. The electroencephalogram in children without ED progressed from the indeterminate state to classifiable sleep or drowsy states, before peaceful awakening. Statistically significant differences in frontal lobe functional connectivity were identified between children with ED and non-ED.
Conclusions: ED is associated with arousal from an indeterminate state before the onset of sleep-like electroencephalogram patterns. Increased frontal lobe cortical functional connectivity observed in ED, immediately after the termination of sevoflurane anesthesia, will have important implications for the development of methods to predict ED, the design of preventative strategies, and efforts to better understand its pathophysiology.