Volatile compared with total intravenous anaesthesia in patients undergoing high-risk cardiac surgery: a randomized multicentre study

G. Landoni, F. Guarracino, C. Cariello, A. Franco, R. Baldassarri, G. Borghi, R. D. Covello, C. Gerli, M. Crivellari, A. Zangrillo

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BACKGROUND: The effect of anaesthesia on postoperative outcome is unclear. Cardioprotective properties of volatile anaesthetics have been demonstrated experimentally and in haemodynamically stable patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. Their effects in patients undergoing high-risk cardiac surgery have not been reported.

METHODS: We performed a multicentre, randomized, parallel group, controlled study among patients undergoing high-risk cardiac surgery (combined valvular and coronary surgery) in 2008-2011. One hundred subjects assigned to the treatment group received sevoflurane for anaesthesia maintenance, while 100 subjects assigned to the control group received propofol-based total i.v. anaesthesia. The primary outcome was a composite of death, prolonged intensive care unit (ICU) stay, or both. Thirty day and 1 yr follow-up, focused on mortality, was performed.

RESULTS: All 200 subjects completed the follow-up and were included in efficacy analyses, conducted according to the intention-to-treat principle. Death, prolonged ICU stay, or both occurred in 36 out of 100 subjects (36%) in the propofol group and in 41 out of 100 subjects (41%) in the sevoflurane group; relative risk 1.14, 95% confidence interval 0.8-1.62; P=0.5. No difference was identified in postoperative cardiac troponin release [1.1 (0.7-2) compared with 1.2 (0.6-2.4) ng ml(-1), P=0.6], 1 yr all-cause mortality [11/100 (11%) compared with 11/100 (11%), P=0.9], re-hospitalizations [20/89 (22.5%) compared with 11/89 (12.4%), P=0.075], and adverse cardiac events [10/89 (11.2%) compared with 9/89 (10.1%), P=0.8].

CONCLUSIONS: There was no observed beneficial effect of sevoflurane on the composite endpoint of prolonged ICU stay, mortality, or both in patients undergoing high-risk cardiac surgery.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov: identifier NCT00821262. Eudra CT (2008-001752-43).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-963
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2014



  • anaesthetics i.v., propofol
  • anaesthetics volatile, sevoflurane
  • cardiovascular anaesthesia
  • complications, death
  • heart, myocardial preservation technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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