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Br J Anaesth. 1996 Feb;76(2):179-85.

Effect of age on MAC in humans: a meta-analysis.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthetics and Intensive Care Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff.


It is well known that MAC, the minimum alveolar concentration required to prevent movement in response to surgical incision in 50% of patients, decreases with age. Regression analysis showed that data for humans derived from a comprehensive literature survey were consistent, for age > 1 yr, with log10 MAC decreasing with increasing age at the same rate for all inhaled anaesthetics; approximately equivalent to 6% change per decade of age. With some slight reservation on differences between data from different institutions, the present data for humans are consistent (for age > 1 yr), with the equation MAC = a x 10bx where x = difference in age (in years) from 40, b = -0.00269 (95% confidence limits (CL) -0.0030, -0.0024) and a = MAC at age 40 yr, which, for anaesthetics currently in use clinically, is given by: halothane, 0.75%; isoflurane, 1.17%; enflurane, 1.63%; sevoflurane, 1.80%; desflurane 6.6%; nitrous oxide, 104%; with 95% CL of approximately +/- 7% (+/- 10% for desflurane, +/- 17% for enflurane).

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