The effect of the interaction of propofol and alfentanil on recall, loss of consciousness, and the Bispectral Index

Irene A. Iselin-Chaves, Ron Flaishon, Peter S. Sebel, Scott Howell, Tong Joo Gan, Jeffrey Sigl, Brian Ginsberg, Peter S.A. Glass*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

223 Scopus citations


The Bispectral Index (BIS) correlates well with the level of consciousness with single anesthetic drugs. We studied the effect of the interaction of propofol with alfentanil on propofol concentration and BIS associated with 50% probability of loss of consciousness and lack of recall (Cp50 and BIS50, respectively). We studied 40 consenting volunteers at two institutions who were randomly assigned to receive stepped increases of propofol (10 subjects at each site), propofol plus alfentanil 50 ng/mL (10 subjects at Emory site), or propofol plus alfentanil 100 ng/mL (10 subjects at Duke site) by using a target-controlled infusion device. Measures of sedation, BIS, ΔBIS (absolute change of BIS after a painful stimulus), memory, and drug concentration were obtained at each target drug concentration. The relation among BIS, measured drug concentration, sedation score, and presence or absence of recall was determined by linear and logistic regression for different drug regimens, and the prediction probability (Pk) was calculated. The addition of alfentanil in increasing doses did not significantly affect the BIS50 and propofol Cp50 values for loss of consciousness and lack of recall. ΔBIS was significantly decreased by both an increase in the concentration of propofol and the presence of alfentanil. The Pk for BIS was >0.93 with all drug regimens, better than those of the target and measured propofol concentrations. We conclude that BIS correlated well with the hypnotic component of anesthesia independent of the presence of an opioid. Moreover, the level of consciousness, and, therefore, the BIS index, is affected by a painful stimulus, and this response is ablated either by opioids or increasing propofol concentration. Implications: In volunteers, the sedation and changes in memory function produced by propofol correlated well with changes in the Bispectral Index. This relationship was not altered by the addition of an analgesic (alfentanil). However, in moderately sedated patients l who received a painful stimulus, the Bispectral Index increased, but this response was blocked by the analgesic or increasing propofol concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-955
Number of pages7
JournalAnesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


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