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Closed-Loop Control of Anesthesia: A Primer for Anesthesiologists

Dumont, Guy A. PhD, PEng*†; Ansermino, J. Mark MBBCh, MSc (Inf), FFA (SA), FRCPC

doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e3182973687
Technology, Computing, and Simulation: Review Article

Feedback control is ubiquitous in nature and engineering and has revolutionized safety in fields from space travel to the automobile. In anesthesia, automated feedback control holds the promise of limiting the effects on performance of individual patient variability, optimizing the workload of the anesthesiologist, increasing the time spent in a more desirable clinical state, and ultimately improving the safety and quality of anesthesia care. The benefits of control systems will not be realized without widespread support from the health care team in close collaboration with industrial partners. In this review, we provide an introduction to the established field of control systems research for the everyday anesthesiologist. We introduce important concepts such as feedback and modeling specific to control problems and provide insight into design requirements for guaranteeing the safety and performance of feedback control systems. We focus our discussion on the optimization of anesthetic drug administration.

Published ahead of print July 8, 2013

From the Departments of *Electrical & Computer Engineering and Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of British Columbia; and Department of Anesthesia, BC Children’s Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Accepted for publication April 3, 2013.

Published ahead of print July 8, 2013

Funding: Not funded.

Conflicts of Interest: See Disclosures at the end of the article.

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to Guy A. Dumont, PhD, PEng, Department of Electrical Engineering, 2332 Main Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada. Address e-mail to

© 2013 International Anesthesia Research Society