Dutch doctors devise monitor to spot who wakes up during surgery

Leiden University teaching hospital researchers are developing a new method to warn surgeons that a patient may be waking up during surgery, the AD reports on Monday.

Every one or two weeks, a patient wakes up on the operating table at a Dutch hospital although doctors often do not notice because the patient cannot move, the AD says.

However, the impact on the person concerned is traumatising. ‘The experience can be traumatic, even if the patient does not feel pain,’ said professor Albert Dahan. ‘They have nightmares, concentration problems and suffer from anxiety.’


The warning system consists of a monitor which measures if the patient is feeling pain – one of the signs that they are awake. ‘It is a sort of lie detector,’ says Dahan.

The monitor registers small changes in heart rhythms, brain capacity, blood pressure and sweat. ‘If a patient is awake, they will be in stress and may perspire. That can also be a sign they are awake,’ Dahan said.

The monitor may be put into use at all operations in two years time, the AD says.


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