BACKGROUND Volatile (inhaled) anesthetic agents have cardioprotective effects, which might improve clinical outcomes in patients undergoing coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG). METHODS We conducted a pragmatic, multicenter, single-blind, controlled trial at 36 centers in 13 countries. Patients scheduled to undergo elective CABG were randomly assigned to an intraoperative anesthetic regimen that included a volatile anesthetic (desflurane, isoflurane, or sevoflurane) or to total intravenous anesthesia. The primary outcome was death from any cause at 1 year. RESULTS A total of 5400 patients were randomly assigned: 2709 to the volatile anesthetics group and 2691 to the total intravenous anesthesia group. On-pump CABG was performed in 64% of patients, with a mean duration of cardiopulmonary bypass of 79 minutes. The two groups were similar with respect to demographic and clinical characteristics at baseline, the duration of cardiopulmonary bypass, and the number of grafts. At the time of the second interim analysis, the data and safety monitoring board advised that the trial should be stopped for futility. No significant difference between the groups with respect to deaths from any cause was seen at 1 year (2.8% in the volatile anesthetics group and 3.0% in the total intravenous anesthesia group; relative risk, 0.94; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.69 to 1.29; P=0.71), with data available for 5353 patients (99.1%), or at 30 days (1.4% and 1.3%, respectively; relative risk, 1.11; 95% CI, 0.70 to 1.76), with data available for 5398 patients (99.9%). There were no significant differences between the groups in any of the secondary outcomes or in the incidence of prespecified adverse events, including myocardial infarction. CONCLUSIONS Among patients undergoing elective CABG, anesthesia with a volatile agent did not result in significantly fewer deaths at 1 year than total intravenous anesthesia.
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