Canadian Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) have developed an automated anesthetic system and believe they were the first in the world to perform a surgery with such a machine. The new system, named ‘McSleepy’ – in honor of the nicknames given to the doctors on the TV show ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ – will administer drugs and monitor vital signs for patients undergoing surgery. So far, the system has been used during seven operations, and according to Dr. Thomas Hemmerling, principal developer for the system at McGill University, the preliminary results show that “…it is actually better in terms of stability of anesthesia than us at this point”.
Think of “McSleepy” as a sort of humanoid anesthesiologist that thinks like an anesthesiologist, analyses biological information and constantly adapts its own behavior, even recognizing monitoring malfunction.
The anesthetic technique was used on a patient who underwent a partial nephrectomy, a procedure that removes a kidney tumor while leaving the non-cancerous part of the kidney intact, over a period of three hours and 30 minutes. To manipulate the various components of general anesthesia, the automated system measures three separate parameters displayed on a new Integrated monitor of anesthesia (IMATM): depth of hypnosis via EEG analysis, pain via a new pain score, called AnalgoscoreTM, and muscle relaxation via phonomyographyTM, all developed by ITAG. The system then administers the appropriate drugs using conventional infusion pumps, controlled by a laptop computer on which “McSleepy” is installed.
Using these three separate parameters and complex algorithms, the automated system calculates faster and more precisely than a human can the appropriate drug doses for any given moment of anesthesia. “McSleepy” assists the anesthesiologist in the same way an automatic transmission assists people when driving. As such, anesthesiologists can focus more on other aspects of direct patient care. An additional feature is that the system can communicate with personal digital assistants (PDAs), making distant monitoring and anesthetic control possible. In addition, this technology can be easily incorporated into modern medical teaching programs such as simulation centers and web-based learning platforms.
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