Purpose of review
In an unconscious patient, there can be significant challenges to monitoring nociception and proper dosing of analgesic medications. The traditional measures of intraoperative nociception have poor sensitivity and specificity with little predictive value in postoperative outcomes such as postoperative pain, opioid-induced side effects, length of stay or incidence of opioid use disorder. To date, several monitoring modalities are in development to establish objective measures of the balance between nociception and analgesia with the goal of guiding anesthesiologists and improve patient outcomes. In this review, some of the most promising monitoring modalities are discussed with the most recent findings.
Multiple modalities are beginning to demonstrate utility compared with traditional care. Most, but not all, of these studies show decreased intraoperative opioid use and some show lower pain scores and opioid requirements in the postanesthesia care unit.
Recent evidence points to promising efficacy for these monitoring modalities; however, this field is in its infancy. More investigation is required to demonstrate differences in outcome compared with traditional care, and these differences need to be of sufficient import to achieve widespread adoption.