Anaesthetic neuroprotection in children: does it exist or is it all just bad?

Vanessa Marchesini, Nicola Disma

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: In the last 20 years, data from studies of laboratory animals, including nonhuman primates, have provided ample evidence that general anaesthetic drugs cause pathological changes in developing central nervous system (neurotoxicity). Recently, a new area of research has been developed in order to recognize any possible actions that can attenuate anaesthetics neurotoxicity. This review aims to provide an overview of the recent literature on neuroprotection.

RECENT FINDINGS: Neuroprotection includes a variety of actions that aim to preserve neuronal structures and/or function against insults caused by sedative and anaesthetic agents. Neuroprotective solutions include prevention of damage, such as postponing procedure, and counterbalance the damage. Mitigation of the neurotoxicity can be obtained through pharmacological protection, reducing cumulative dose or promoting neuroplasticity. Moreover, surgery and pain themselves might interfere with normal neurodevelopment in children and, in particular, treatment of pain plays a key role in preserving cortical activity and brain development.

SUMMARY: Recent literature largely explores a variety of solutions in order to preserve and reduce the damage caused by anaesthetic agents. At the moment, none of the presented solutions regarding neuroprotection is applicable in clinical setting. Further research studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-369
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Anaesthesiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Anesthesia, General/adverse effects
  • Anesthetics, General/administration & dosage
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Nervous System/drug effects
  • Neuroprotection/drug effects
  • Neuroprotective Agents/administration & dosage
  • Pain/etiology
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative/adverse effects


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