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Anesthesiology. 1999 Jun;90(6):1587-95.

The effect of pyrogen administration on sweating and vasoconstriction thresholds during desflurane anesthesia.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0648, USA.



General anesthetics increase the sweating-to-vasoconstriction interthreshold range (temperatures not triggering thermoregulatory defenses), whereas fever is believed to only increase the setpoint (target core temperature). However, no data characterize thresholds (temperatures triggering thermoregulatory defenses) during combined anesthesia and fever. Most likely, the combination produces an expanded interthreshold range around an elevated setpoint. The authors therefore tested the hypothesis that thermoregulatory response thresholds during the combination of fever and anesthesia are simply the linear combination of the thresholds resulting from each intervention alone.


The authors studied eight healthy male volunteers. Fever was induced on the appropriate days by intravenous injection of 30 IU/g human recombinant interleukin 2 (IL-2), followed 2 h later by an additional 70 IU/g. General anesthesia consisted of desflurane 0.6 minimum alveolar concentration (MAC). The volunteers were randomly assigned to the following groups: (1) control (no desflurane, no IL-2); (2) IL-2 alone; (3) desflurane alone; and (4) desflurane plus IL-2. During the fever plateau, volunteers were warmed until sweating was observed and then cooled to vasoconstriction. Sweating was evaluated from a ventilated capsule and vasoconstriction was quantified by volume plethysmography. The tympanic membrane temperatures triggering significant sweating and vasoconstriction identified the respective response thresholds. Data are presented as the mean +/- SD; P < 0.05 was considered significant.


The interthreshold range was near 0.40 degrees C on both the control day and during IL-2 administration alone. On the IL-2 alone day, however, the interthreshold range was shifted to higher temperatures. The interthreshold range increased significantly during desflurane anesthesia to 1.9+/-0.6 degrees C. The interthreshold range during the combination of desflurane and IL-2 was 1.2+/-0.6 degrees C, which was significantly greater than on the control and IL-2 alone days. However, it was also significantly less than during desflurane alone.


The combination of desflurane and IL-2 caused less thermoregulatory inhibition than would be expected based on the effects of either treatment alone. Fever-induced activation of the sympathetic nervous system may contribute by compensating for a fraction of the anesthetic-induced thermoregulatory impairment.

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