Although significant advances in clinical monitoring technology and clinical practice development have taken place in the last several decades, in this editorial we argue that much more still needs to be done. We begin by identifying many of the improvements in perioperative technology that have become available in recent years; these include electroencephalographic depth of anesthesia monitoring, bedside ultrasonography, advanced neuromuscular transmission monitoring systems, and other developments. We then discuss some of the perioperative technical challenges that remain to be satisfactorily addressed, such as products that incorporate poor software design or offer a confusing user interface. Finally we suggest that the journal support initiatives to help remedy this problem by publishing reports on the evaluation of medical equipment as a means to restore the link between clinical research and clinical end-users. Advances during the last several decades have led to im- rate of 1.5% before the introduction of a surgical check- portant improvements in clinical monitoring technology list fell to 0.8% after, with an inpatient complication rate and clinical practice development, not only in patients dropping from a baseline of 11% down to 7% after intro- undergoing surgery [1–6] or in patients being cared for duction of the checklist. New approaches to clinical air- in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) [7–9] but also in ambula- way management such as airway algorithms [24, 25], tory patients [10, 11]. These developments have contrib- video laryngoscopy [26–31], extubation catheters [32– uted to great improvements in patient safety [3, 5–7, 34] and advanced supraglottic airway devices [35–38] 12–14]. In addition, anesthesiologists world-wide have are also protecting patients from injury. developed standards for continuous real-time monitor- In the realm of perioperative cardiac monitoring, the ing of hemodynamics, oxygenation, ventilation, neuro- use of conventional and 3D- echocardiography [39, 40] logical status, urine output, core temperature, degree of now allows for real-time monitoring of valvular function, neuromuscular blockade, as well as other items, all of ventricular filling, cardiac contractility and other which have also contributed significantly to patient hemodynamic parameters. Additionally, hand-held ultra- safety [15–17]. sound machines are changing how bedside examinations Several other innovative developments have also con- are conducted [41–44](Fig. 1). Clinical early warning al- tributed to improving the quality of perioperative care. gorithms, especially valuable in the perioperative setting Checklists, proven to be particularly valuable in the to detect the early onset of clinical deterioration, have also aerospace industry, are now in common use in the oper- proven to be effective in improving patient care [45–49]. ating room and elsewhere [18–22]. For example, in a Another important development concerns the numer- landmark study by Haynes et al. , a surgical death ous so called “Depth of anesthesia monitors” such as the bispectral index (BIS) monitor. Historically, bispectral analysis is a standard high-order statistical analysis first * Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve used by oceanographers as a measure of time series to University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA study nonlinearity in ocean waves . This was further Department of General Anesthesiology, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Abu developed in the 1960s by geophysicist seismologists to Dhabi, UAE, PO Box 112412, Abu Dhabi, UAE Full list of author information is available at the end of the article © The Author(s). 2018, corrected publication May 2018. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated. John Doyle et al. BMC Anesthesiology (2018) 18:39 Page 2 of 5 Fig. 1 Ultrasound machines for applications such as echocardiography, regional anesthesia or central line placement have now evolved to the point that they can connected to a smartphone or tablet.Image from Michard F. Smartphones and e-tablets in perioperative medicine. Korean J Anesthesiol. 2017 Oct;70(5):493–499. doi: https://doi.org/10.4097/kjae.2017.70.5.493. PubMed PMID: 29046768; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5645581. Image used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited study complex seismic waveforms . The first EEG- BetaRatio most influential during light anesthesia, a fre- derived monitor, the BIS (Medtronic, Dublin, Ireland) quency–domain feature is the EEG spectral power log was introduced in 1994 as a monitor of the effects of (P /P ), SynchFastSlow predominates dur- 30–47 Hz 11–20 Hz certain anesthetic/hypnotic agents . To date the ing surgical levels of hypnosis, a bispectral–domain fea- complete details of the BIS algorithm have not been ture, is the bispectral power wave band log (B 0.5–47 Hz published. Scientifically speaking, all that we really know /B ) and Burst Suppression that detects very deep 40–47 Hz is that the BIS monitor is merely a “black box” headset anesthesia, a time–domain feature combining two separ- and the BIS value reflects a “head-related” biosignal that ate algorithms: Burst Suppression Ratio that quantifies correlates with changes in the biophase effect-site con- the extent of isoelectrical silence, and QUAZI suppres- centrations of certain hypnotic /sedative drugs and thus sion index that detects Burst Suppression superimposed cannot be considered a “true” reflection of the depth of on wandering low baseline voltage . None of these anesthesia. In other words, the BIS index is a measure of disparate descriptors is particular per se; as each has a certain drugs’ effect and is not a true reflection of the specific range of influence where they perform best. The EEG signal nor an independent measure of brain BIS analysis uses a proprietary algorithm that allows the 3 function . In the early years all attempts of the manu- different descriptors to sequentially dominate as the EEG facturer for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to li- changes its character with increasing anesthetics’ concen- cense the BIS as an “independent uniform depth of trations. It thus transforms the nonlinear stages of the anesthesia” monitor failed. For instance, a BIS value of 57 anesthetic drug effect relative contributions on the EEG for 1 MAC halothane is significantly higher than the BIS into an easy-to-use dimensionless number ranging from value of 32 for an equipotent 1 MAC sevoflurane , and 100 (fully awake) to zero (isoelectric EEG) . significantly higher than a BIS value of 33 for an equipotent Obviously, in many instances BIS changes do not truly 1 MAC isoflurane . While ketamine provides adequate reflect changing anesthetics’ concentrations, as BIS indi- anesthesia, ketamine administration was reported to para- ces would reflect other unrelated EEG events of certain doxically increase the BIS from 44 to 59 . conditions exerting their own EEG effect. Because the What is the bispectral index then? The BIS algorithms BIS is an EEG derived parameter hence anything that were derived from EEG changes with incremental doses would change the EEG would subsequently change the of certain hypnotic drug(s); isoflurane or propofol while BIS. There is a body of literature of EEG changes of con- measuring 3 descriptors in volunteers. The BIS index is ditions like hypothermia, hypoglycemia, hypovolemia, the weighted sum of 3 sub-parameters; Relative hypotension, hepatic encephalopathy or physiological John Doyle et al. BMC Anesthesiology (2018) 18:39 Page 3 of 5 sleep with the same conditions consequently changing novel generation of so-called Tri-axial acceleromyo- the BIS to the same extent . graphs. Nowadays the only commercially available accel- In the realm of the ever-changing landscape of neuro- eromyographs all belong to the new Tri-axial based muscular blockade monitors, older designs are frequently generation; namely the Stimpod NMS 450 (Xavant, replaced with new devices that are often promoted as tech- Silverton, Pretoria, South Africa), the TOFscan (Dräger, nically superior by the manufacturers. Conventional Lübeck, Germany) and the new modular neuromuscular mechanomyography (MMG) is regarded by the Stockholm transducer NMT (Mindray, Shenzhen, China). revision consensus conference as the gold standard for The above successes notwithstanding, many vital precise quantification of neuromuscular block, as it quanti- challenges remain to be addressed by the anesthesia fies the exact force displacement isometric muscle contrac- technology community. One of these challenges includes tion of a preload-restrained thumb in response to electric reducing the time interval needed to troubleshoot a mal- stimulation at the ulnar nerve . The main obstacle fa- functioning electrocardiogram, capnograph, pulse oxim- cing its wide clinical use is that the equipment takes time eter or some other patient monitor prior to starting an to set up and requires rigid support of the arm. anesthesia case. Another challenge is in the realm of Over the years, we have seen numerous stand-alone or alarms [2, 4, 64]; who has not been irritated when the modular-integrated neuromuscular monitoring devices source of a monitor alarm is completely unapparent or that quantify the neuromuscular function based on when an asystole alarm occurs despite both a good arter- physiological phenomena other than force measurement. ial blood pressure waveform and a high-quality pulse ox- The kinemyographic (KMG) device known as ParaGraph imeter tracing being present. Such difficulties divert  (Vital Signs, Totowa, NJ) is no longer available for attention from direct patient monitoring as mental effort routine clinical use as the manufacturer has been ac- is expended to address some technical problem. quired by CareFusion in 2014 although the neuromuscu- Problems related to poor software design or careless user lar transmission module (E-NMT) in the AS/5TM interface designs have also led to patient harm [65–68]. anaesthesia monitor (GE, Helsinki, Finland)  is still In view of these concerns, we would like to propose available. Both quantify the signal generated from thumb that the journal support initiatives by publishing reports adduction via deformation of a piezoelectric film sensor on the evaluation of anesthesia and perioperative equip- in response to electric stimulation of the ulnar nerve. ment . These reports might be made in a manner E-NMT has an additional electromyographic (EMG) not dissimilar to information provided by web sites like transducer that quantifies the evoked compound action eopinions.com as well as in specialized magazines like potential generated at the thenar eminence. Consumer Reports (which provides evaluations of prod- Another attractive class of devices are acceleromyo- ucts such as household appliances) or in reports graphic (AMG) monitors. The first commercially avail- provided by a number of Personal Computer magazines able product, TOF-GUARDTM (Organon Teknika, Oss, (focusing on software and hardware products). Netherlands) . now discontinued, has been replaced We envision two general forms of report. The first by a simpler device known as TOF-WatchTM (MIPM, kind of report would be an informal “first impressions” Mammendorf, Germany) . Both measure the acceler- description of newly available equipment. These reports ation using a piezoelectric sensor attached to a freely – or user’s opinions -would frequently make observa- moving thumb (“piezo” from the Greek word meaning tions concerning ergonomics and equipment usability. pressure). Note that according to Newton’s second law: Extensive and definite evaluation would not be the pri- force = mass x acceleration, acceleration is directly pro- mary objective. While necessarily subjective, this infor- portional to force when mass is constant, so that instead mation would be valuable to individuals seeking to of measuring the evoked force, thumb acceleration can acquire new equipment. Further, individual feedbacks be measured instead. A major impediment of this type about a newly available equipment will be of major inter- of monitoring is the fact that the piezoelectric sensor est to coordinate clinical evaluations based on structured may not always be “properly aligned” to the optimal evaluation protocols in a collaborative effort regrouping plane of the thumb movement. A comprehensive sys- clinicians familiar with the equipment. tematic review of acceleromyography by Claudius and A second, more formal, kind of report would be Viby-Mogensen described many of the methodological supported based on the usual scientific publication pres- problems facing the technology based on evidence based entation. This kind of report would be based on rigor- data of 43 publications . ous, reproducible testing methods like those methods With the manufacturer official announcement of the used by ECRI (ecri.org) and other testing agencies to discontinuance of all the TOF Watch monitors series ef- produce detailed, formal, laboratory-based assessments. fective June 2016, this development gave way to a new Additionally, these reports would include clinical evalua- wave of neuromuscular monitoring devices, namely a tions based on broadly discussed evaluation protocols John Doyle et al. BMC Anesthesiology (2018) 18:39 Page 4 of 5 including modern statistical methods. Because of the na- 2. Imhoff M, Kuhls S, Gather U, Fried R. Smart alarms from medical devices in the OR and ICU. Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2009 Mar;23(1):39–50. ture of the devices under evaluation, research protocols 3. Subrahmanyam M, Mohan S. Safety features in anaesthesia machine. 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Monitoring cardiorespiratory instability: current approaches and implications for nursing practice. Intensive Crit Care to improve the design of new devices, and collaborative Nurs. 2016 Jun;34:73–80. evaluation effort is usually the fastest way to obtain suffi- 9. Huygh J, Peeters Y, Bernards J, Malbrain ML. Hemodynamic monitoring in cient data to reliably draw conclusions about the clinical the critically ill: an overview of current cardiac output monitoring methods. F1000Res. 2016.doi: https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.8991.1. and economical value of a new device. eCollection 2016. Review. PubMed PMID: 8003877; PubMed Central PMCID: We believe the journal can play an important role in this PMC5166586. initiative. With a more interactive, a more collaborative, 10. Kroll RR, McKenzie ED, Boyd JG, Sheth P, Howes D, Wood M, et al. Use of wearable devices for post-discharge monitoring of ICU patients: a feasibility and a more international approach, such an initiative study. 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