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Anesthesiology. 2000 Jul;93(1):32-8.

Comparison of isoflurane effects on motor evoked potential and F wave.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.



Volatile anesthetics produce surgical immobility by suppressing the motor system. The anesthetic action site in the motor pathway is unclear. Anesthetic effects on the whole and the lower portion of motor pathway can be studied by measuring the motor evoked potentials (MEP) and the F wave. This study measured the effect of isoflurane on the MEP and the F wave.


With institutional review board approval, we studied 12 adult patients with American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status I or II. After intubation, anesthesia was maintained with nitrous oxide/oxygen and propofol infusion. MEPs were elicited by transcranial electrical stimuli (train-of-five pulse; stimuli intensity 40-160 mA) through electrodes placed in the scalp at C3/C4 positions and recorded at the anterior tibialis muscle with an Axon Sentinel-4EP monitor. F waves were elicited by an electrode fixed over the posterior tibial nerve at the medial malleolus and recorded at the abductor hallucis muscle. After end-tidal concentration of isoflurane was maintained at 0.5% for 20 min, the MEP and F wave were measured again. MEP and F-wave changes before and after isoflurane were analyzed using paired Wilcoxon test with Bonferroni correction. The difference between the changes in MEP and F wave was analyzed using Friedman's test.


Motor evoked potential amplitudes (median, 205 microV; 25th-75th percentiles, 120-338 microV), F-wave amplitude (median, 100 microV; 25th-75th percentiles, 64.2-137.5 microV), and F-wave persistence (59 +/- 29%) were decreased to 0 microV (0-15 microV), 49 microV (12.4-99.6 microV), and 30 +/- 31%, respectively, by 0.5% isoflurane. MEP amplitude suppression was different from the changes in F-wave amplitude and persistence (P < 0.02).


Isoflurane 0.5% suppresses the motor pathway by decreasing both MEP and F wave. The MEP is suppressed more than the F wave.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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