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Br J Anaesth. 2001 Feb;86(2):196-202.

Absence of memory for intra-operative information during surgery with total intravenous anaesthesia.

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Department of Anaesthesia, Hull Royal Infirmary, Kingston upon Hull, UK.


While using the isolated forearm technique, we wished to determine whether patients who did not respond to commands during general anaesthesia with a total intravenous technique (propofol and alfentanil with atracurium) had any evidence of post-operative explicit or implicit memory. Forty women undergoing major gynaecological surgery were randomized, in a double-blind design, to hear two different tapes during surgery. Psychological tests of explicit and implicit memory were conducted within 2 h of surgery. There was no evidence of implicit or explicit memory, nor any recall, in the seven women who responded to commands during surgery. We conclude that during total intravenous anaesthesia with propofol and alfentanil, there is no evidence that learning takes place when anaesthesia is adequate. Furthermore, with this anaesthetic technique, it would seem that--provided any period of patient responsiveness is short and that unconsciousness is induced rapidly again--there is no evidence of implicit or explicit memory.

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