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Cognitive dysfunction following desflurane versus sevoflurane general anesthesia in elderly patients: a randomized controlled trial

Minhthy Meineke, Richard L Applegate, Thomas Rasmussen, Donald Anderson, Sherif Azer, Ali Mehdizadeh, Amy Kim, Martin Allard
Medical Gas Research 2014 March 25, 4 (1): 6
24666542

UNLABELLED: As life expectancy increases, more patients ≥65 years undergo general anesthesia. Anesthetic agents may contribute to postoperative cognitive dysfunction, and incidence may differ with anesthetic agents or intraoperative anesthesia depth. Responses to anesthetic adjuvants vary among elderly patients. Processed electroencephalography guidance of anesthetic may better ensure equivalent cerebral suppression. This study investigates postoperative cognitive dysfunction differences in elderly patients given desflurane or sevoflurane using processed electroencephalography guidance.IRB approved, randomized trial enrolled consenting patients ≥65 years scheduled for elective surgery requiring general anesthesia ≥120 minute duration. After written informed consent, patients were randomly assigned to sevoflurane or desflurane. No perioperative benzodiazepines were administered. Cognitive impairment was measured by an investigator blinded to group assignment using mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) at baseline; 1, 6, and 24 hours after the end of anesthesia. Mean arterial pressure was maintained within 20% of baseline. Anesthetic dose was adjusted to maintain moderate general anesthesia per processed electroencephalograpy (Patient State Index 25 to 50). The primary outcome measure was intergroup difference in MMSE change 1 hour after anesthesia (median; 95% confidence interval).110 patients consented; 26 were not included for analysis (no general anesthesia; withdrew consent; baseline MMSE abnormality; inability to perform postoperative MMSE; data capture failure); 47 sevoflurane and 37 desflurane were analyzed. There were no significant differences in patient characteristics; intraoperative mean blood pressure (desflurane 86.4; 81.3 to 89.6 versus sevoflurane 82.5; 80.2 to 86.1 mmHg; p = 0.42) or Patient State Index (desflurane 41.9; 39.0 to 44.0 versus sevoflurane 41.0; 37.5 to 44.0; p = 0.60) despite a lower MAC fraction in desflurane (0.82; 0.77 to 0.86) versus sevoflurane (0.96; 0.91 to 1.03; p < 0.001). MMSE decreased 1 hour after anesthesia (p < 0.001). The decrease at one hour was larger in sevoflurane (-2.5; -3.3 to -1.8) than desflurane (-1.3; -2.2 to -0.5; p = 0.03). MMSE returned to baseline by 6 hours after anesthesia.

CONCLUSIONS: For elderly patients in whom depth of anesthesia is maintained in the moderate range, both desflurane and sevoflurane are associated with transient decreases in cognitive function as measured by MMSE after anesthesia, with clinically insignificant differences between them in this setting.

TRIAL REGISTRY: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01199913.

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