Source-level cortical power changes for xenon and nitrous oxide-induced reductions in consciousness in healthy male volunteers

Andria Pelentritou, Levin Kuhlmann, John Cormack, Steven McGuigan, Will Woods, Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, David Liley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Investigations of the electrophysiology of gaseous anesthetics xenon and nitrous oxide are limited revealing inconsistent frequencydependent alterations in spectral power and functional connectivity. Here, the authors describe the effects of sedative, equivalent, stepwise levels of xenon and nitrous oxide administration on oscillatory source power using a crossover design to investigate shared and disparate mechanisms of gaseous xenon and nitrous oxide anesthesia. 

Methods: Twenty-one healthy males underwent simultaneous magnetoencephalography and electroencephalography recordings. In separate sessions, sedative, equivalent subanesthetic doses of gaseous anesthetic agents nitrous oxide and xenon (0.25, 0.50, and 0.75 equivalent minimum alveolar concentration-awake [MACawake]) and 1.30 MACawake xenon (for loss of responsiveness) were administered. Source power in various frequency bands were computed and statistically assessed relative to a conscious/pre-gas baseline. 

Results: Observed changes in spectral-band power (P < 0.005) were found to depend not only on the gas delivered, but also on the recording modality. While xenon was found to increase low-frequency band power only at loss of responsiveness in both source-reconstructed magnetoencephalographic (delta, 208.3%, 95% CI [135.7, 281.0%]; theta, 107.4%, 95% CI [63.5, 151.4%]) and electroencephalographic recordings (delta, 260.3%, 95% CI [225.7, 294.9%]; theta, 116.3%, 95% CI [72.6, 160.0%]), nitrous oxide only produced significant magnetoencephalographic high-frequency band increases (low gamma, 46.3%, 95% CI [34.6, 57.9%]; high gamma, 45.7%, 95% CI [34.5, 56.8%]). Nitrous oxide-not xenon-produced consistent topologic (frontal) magnetoencephalographic reductions in alpha power at 0.75 MACawake doses (44.4%; 95% CI [-50.1,-38.6%]), whereas electroencephalographically nitrous oxide produced maximal reductions in alpha power at submaximal levels (0.50 MACawake,-44.0%; 95% CI [-48.1,-40.0%]). 

Conclusions: Electromagnetic source-level imaging revealed widespread power changes in xenon and nitrous oxide anesthesia, but failed to reveal clear universal features of action for these two gaseous anesthetics. Magnetoencephalographic and electroencephalographic power changes showed notable differences which will need to be taken into account to ensure the accurate monitoring of brain state during anaesthesia. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1017-1033
Number of pages17
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Cite this