Awake Craniotomy Anesthesia: A Comparison of the Monitored Anesthesia Care and Asleep-Awake-Asleep Techniques

Chikezie I. Eseonu, Karim ReFaey, Oscar Garcia, Amballur John, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Punita Tripathi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background Commonly used sedation techniques for an awake craniotomy include monitored anesthesia care (MAC), using an unprotected airway, and the asleep-awake-asleep (AAA) technique, using a partially or totally protected airway. We present a comparative analysis of the MAC and AAA techniques, evaluating anesthetic management, perioperative outcomes, and complications in a consecutive series of patients undergoing the removal of an eloquent brain lesion. Methods Eighty-one patients underwent awake craniotomy for an intracranial lesion over a 9-year period performed by a single-surgeon and a team of anesthesiologists. Fifty patients were treated using the MAC technique, and 31 were treated using the AAA technique. A retrospective analysis evaluated anesthetic management, intraoperative complications, postoperative outcomes, pain management, and complications. Results The MAC and AAA groups had similar preoperative patient and tumor characteristics. Mean operative time was shorter in the MAC group (283.5 minutes vs. 313.3 minutes; P = 0.038). Hypertension was the most common intraoperative complication seen (8% in the MAC group vs. 9.7% in the AAA group; P = 0.794). Intraoperative seizure occurred at a rate of 4% in the MAC group and 3.2% in the AAA group (P = 0.858). Awake cases were converted to general anesthesia in no patients in the MAC group and in 1 patient (3.2%) in the AAA group (P = 0.201). No cases were aborted in either group. The mean hospital length of stay was 3.98 days in the MAC group and 3.84 days in the AAA group (P = 0.833). Conclusions Both the MAC and AAA sedation techniques provide an efficacious and safe method for managing awake craniotomy cases and produce similar perioperative outcomes, with the MAC technique associated with shorter operative time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-686
Number of pages8
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthesia
  • Asleep-awake-asleep
  • Awake craniotomy
  • Monitored anesthesia care
  • Tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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