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Volatile anaesthetic myocardial protection: a review of the current literature.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Alfred Hospital, Monash University; Melbourne, Australia.


Ischaemic preconditioning is a powerful innate adaptive phenomenon whereby brief periods of sublethal ischaemia result in marked tolerance to subsequent lethal ischaemia. Halogenated anaesthetics have been shown to mimic ischaemic preconditioning, modifying and attenuating ischaemia reperfusion injury. This review aims to present the current animal and human data, discuss the possible mechanisms of action and review the clinical evidence for volatile anaesthetic-induced myocardial protection. There is class Ia evidence for the myocardial protective properties of sevoflurane and desflurane in low risk patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. These volatile anaesthetics have been shown to improve clinical outcomes and health economics following cardiac surgery, reducing intensive care and hospital stay. The evidence for the benefit of volatile anaesthetics in non-cardiac surgery is less robust and further large randomized controlled trials are required to elucidate this question.


cardiac anaesthesia; ischaemic preconditioning; mechanisms; myocardial protection; outcomes; volatile anaesthetics

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