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Br J Anaesth. 2013 Jun;110 Suppl 1:i39-46. doi: 10.1093/bja/aet103. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

Distinct long-term neurocognitive outcomes after equipotent sevoflurane or isoflurane anaesthesia in immature rats.

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Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California San Francisco, 513 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco, CA, USA.



Many anaesthetics when given to young animals cause cell death and learning deficits that persist until much later in life. Recent attempts to compare the relative safety or toxicity between different agents have not adequately controlled for the relative dose of anaesthetic given, thereby making direct comparisons difficult.


Isoflurane or sevoflurane were given at 1 minimum alveolar concentration (MAC) for 4 h to postnatal day 7 (P7) rat pups. Beginning at P75 these animals underwent fear conditioning and at P83 Morris water maze testing to assess working memory, short-term memory and early long-term memory using delays of 1 min, 1 h, and 4 h.


No difference between groups was seen in fear conditioning experiments. Morris water maze learning was equivalent between groups, and no difference was seen in working memory. Sevoflurane-treated animals had a deficit in early long-term memory, and isoflurane-treated animals had a deficit in both short-term and early long-term memory.


Both isoflurane and sevoflurane delivered at 1 MAC for 4 h to immature rats caused a deficit in long-term memory. Isoflurane also caused a deficit in short-term memory. Isoflurane might be more detrimental than sevoflurane in very young animals.


animals; isoflurane toxicity; memory drug effects; newborn; sevoflurane toxicity

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