Volatile Anesthetics Reduce Mortality in Cardiac Surgery

Elena Bignami, Giuseppe Biondi-Zoccai, Giovanni Landoni, Oliviero Fochi, Valentina Testa, Imad Sheiban, Francesco Giunta, Alberto Zangrillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: A recent meta-analysis suggested that volatile anesthetics reduce postoperative mortality after cardiac surgery. Nonetheless, whether volatile anesthetics improve the outcome of cardiac surgical patients is still a matter of debate. The authors investigated whether the use of volatile anesthetics reduces mortality in cardiac surgery. Design, Setting, and Interventions: A longitudinal study of 34,310 coronary artery bypass graft interventions performed in Italy estimated the risk-adjusted mortality ratio for each center. A survey was conducted among these centers to investigate whether the use of volatile anesthetics showed a correlation with mortality. Measurements and Main Results: All 64 eligible centers provided the required data. The median unadjusted 30-day mortality among participating centers was 2.2% (0.3-8.8), whereas the median risk-adjusted 30-day mortality was 1.8% (0.1-7.2). Risk-adjusted analysis showed that the use of volatile anesthetics was associated with a significantly lower rate of risk-adjusted 30-day mortality (β = -1.172 [-2.259, -0.085], R2 = 0.070, p = 0.035). Dichotomization into centers using volatile anesthetics in at least 25% of their cases or in less than 25% yielded even more statistically significant results (p = 0.003). Furthermore, a longer use of volatile anesthetics was associated with a significantly lower death rate (p = 0.022); and exploring the impact of the specific volatile anesthetic agent, the use of isoflurane was associated with significant reductions in risk-adjusted mortality rates (p = 0.039). Conclusions: This survey among 64 Italian centers shows that risk-adjusted mortality may be reduced by the use of volatile agents in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-599
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • cardiac anesthesia
  • cardiac surgery
  • coronary artery bypass graft surgery
  • halogenated anesthetics
  • mortality
  • myocardial damage
  • total intravenous anesthesia
  • volatile anesthetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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