The Influence of Electromyographic on Electroencephalogram-Based Monitoring: Putting the Forearm on the Forehead

Felicitas Lichtenfeld, Stephan Kratzer, Dominik Hinzmann, Paul S. García, Gerhard Schneider, Matthias Kreuzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Monitoring the electroencephalogram (EEG) during general anesthesia can help to safely navigate the patient through the procedure by avoiding too deep or light anesthetic levels. In daily clinical practice, the EEG is recorded from the forehead and available neuromonitoring systems translate the EEG information into an index inversely correlating with the anesthetic level. Electrode placement on the forehead can lead to an influence of electromyographic (EMG) activity on the recorded signal in patients without neuromuscular blockade (NMB). A separation of EEG and EMG in the clinical setting is difficult because both signals share an overlapping frequency range. Previous research showed that indices decreased when EMG was absent in awake volunteers with NMB. Here, we investigated to what extent the indices changed, when EEG recorded during surgery with NMB agents was superimposed with EMG. METHODS: We recorded EMG from the flexor muscles of the forearm of 18 healthy volunteers with a CONOX monitor during different activity settings, that is, during contraction using a grip strengthener and during active diversion (relaxed arm). Both the forehead and forearm muscles are striated muscles. The recorded EMG was normalized by z-scoring and added to the EEG in different amplification steps. The EEG was recorded during anesthesia with NMB. We replayed these combined EEG and EMG signals to different neuromonitoring systems, that is, bispectral index (BIS), CONOX with qCON and qNOX, and entropy module with state entropy (SE) and response entropy (RE). We used the Friedman test and a Tukey-Kramer post hoc correction for statistical analysis. RESULTS: The indices of all neuromonitoring systems significantly increased when the EEG was superimposed with the contraction EMG and with high EMG amplitudes, the monitors returned invalid values, representative of artifact contamination. When replaying the EEG being superimposed with "relaxed" EMG, the qCON and BIS showed significant increases, but not SE and RE. For SE and RE, we observed an increased number of invalid values. CONCLUSIONS: With our approach, we could show that EMG activity during contraction and resting state can influence the neuromonitoring systems. This knowledge may help to improve EEG-based patient monitoring in the future and help the anesthesiologist to use the neuromonitoring systems with more knowledge regarding their function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1285-1294
Number of pages10
JournalAnesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2024
Externally publishedYes


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