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Br J Anaesth. 2012 Aug;109(2):208-15. doi: 10.1093/bja/aes146. Epub 2012 Jun 1.

Changes in cerebrospinal fluid magnesium levels in patients undergoing spinal anaesthesia for hip arthroplasty: does intravenous infusion of magnesium sulphate make any difference? A prospective, randomized, controlled study.

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  • 1Pain Unit, Department of Medical-Surgical, Techno-Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Ospedale Sant’Andrea, via di Grottarossa, 1035Rome, Italy.



Most investigators have attributed the reduced postoperative pain or anaesthetic drug requirements in patients receiving i.v. magnesium sulphate (MgSO(4)) infusion during spinal or general anaesthesia to central N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor magnesium (Mg) activity. In this study, we investigated how cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Mg concentrations change after spinal anaesthesia, and whether peripherally infusing MgSO(4) influences central Mg levels.


Forty-five patients undergoing continuous spinal anaesthesia for hip arthroplasty were randomly assigned to receive either i.v. MgSO(4) at a dose of 50 mg kg(-1) diluted in 100 ml 0.9% saline solution followed by 15 mg kg(-1) h(-1) for 6 h or saline at the same volume [mean (sd) 64 (10) ml]. The changes in CSF and serum total and ionized Mg concentrations were assessed at six time points before and after spinal anaesthesia. Secondary outcome variables included serum and CSF electrolytes and proteins.


Thirty-five patients completed the study. We found that spinal anaesthesia reduced total and ionized Mg concentrations in CSF by about 10%. Increasing serum Mg concentration over 80% of the baseline value left CSF Mg levels unchanged.


Spinal anaesthesia unexpectedly reduced CSF total and ionized Mg concentrations in patients undergoing hip arthroplasty, although the mechanism is unclear. The dose used for peripheral MgSO(4) infusion in this study had no influence on central Mg concentrations in neurologically healthy patients undergoing spinal anaesthesia. If CSF Mg concentration is a reliable marker of Mg brain bioavailability, peripherally infused MgSO(4) during spinal anaesthesia is unlikely to influence central NMDA receptor activity.

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