Background: Dynamic action of anesthetic agents was compared at cortical and subcortical levels during induction of anesthesia. Unconsciousness involved the cortical brain but suppression of movement in response to noxious stimuli was mediated through subcortical structures.
Methods: Twenty-five patients with Parkinson disease, previously implanted with a deep-brain stimulation electrode, were enrolled during the implantation of the definitive pulse generator. During induction of anesthesia with propofol (n = 13) or sevoflurane (n = 12) alone, cortical (EEG) and subcortical (ESCoG) electrogenesis were obtained, respectively, from a frontal montage (F3–C3) and through the deep-brain electrode (p0–p3). In EEG and ESCoG spectral analysis, spectral edge (90%) frequency, median power frequency, and nonlinear analysis dimensional activation calculations were determined.
Results: Sevoflurane and propofol decreased EEG and ESCoG activity in a dose-related fashion. EEG values decreased dramatically at loss of consciousness, whereas there was little change in ESCoG values. Quantitative parameters derived from EEG but not from ESCoG were able to predict consciousness versus unconsciousness. Conversely, quantitative parameters derived from ESCoG but not from EEG were able to predict movement in response to laryngoscopy.
Conclusion: These data suggest that in humans, unconsciousness mainly involves the cortical brain, but that suppression of movement in response to noxious stimuli is mediated through the effect of anesthetic agents on subcortical structures.