Estimation of the bispectral index by anesthesiologists: An inverse turing test

Michael M. Bottros, Ben Julian A. Palanca, George A. Mashour, Ami Patel, Catherine Butler, Amanda Taylor, Nan Lin, Michael S. Avidan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Processed electroencephalographic indices, such as the bispectral index (BIS), are potential adjuncts for assessing anesthetic depth. While BIS® monitors might aid anesthetic management, unprocessed or nonproprietary electroencephalographic data may be a rich source of information for clinicians. We hypothesized that anesthesiologists, after training in electroencephalography interpretation, could estimate the index of a reference BIS as accurately as a second BIS® monitor (twin BIS®) (Covidien Medical, Boulder, CO) when provided with clinical and electroencephalographic data. Methods: Two sets of electrodes connected to two separate BIS® monitors were placed on the foreheads of 10 surgical patients undergoing general anesthesia. Electroencephalographic parameters, vital signs, and end-tidal anesthetic gas concentrations were recorded at prespecified time points, and were provided to two sets of anesthesiologists. Ten anesthesiologists received brief structured training in electroencephalograph interpretation and 10 were untrained. Although electroencephalographic waveforms and open-source processed electroencephalograph metrics were provided from the reference BIS®, both groups were blinded to BIS values and were asked to estimate BIS. Results: The trained anesthesiologists averaged as close to or closer to the reference BIS® compared with the twin BIS® monitor for 34% of their BIS estimates versus 26% for the untrained anesthesiologists. Using linear mixed effects model analysis, there was a statistically significant difference between the trained and untrained anesthesiologists (P = 0.02), but no difference between the twin BIS® monitor and trained anesthesiologists (P = 0.9). Conclusion: With limited electroencephalography training and access to clinical data, anesthesiologists can estimate the BIS almost as well as a second BIS® monitor. These results reinforce the potential utility of training anesthesia practitioners in unprocessed electroencephalogram interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1101
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011


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