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Anesthesiology. 2016 Jan;124(1):69-79. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000000936.

Long-term Survival for Patients Undergoing Volatile versus IV Anesthesia for Cancer Surgery: A Retrospective Analysis.

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From the Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care Unit (T.J.W., S.J.) and Research and Development Department (K.M.), Royal Marsden Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom.



Surgical resection remains the best option for long-term survival in many solid tumors. Surgery can, however, lead to tumor cell release into the circulation. Data have suggested differential effects of anesthetic agents on cancer cell growth. This retrospective analysis investigated the association of anesthetic technique with long-term survival in patients presenting for elective surgery in a comprehensive cancer center over 3 yr.


All patients undergoing elective surgery between June 2010 and May 2013 were included. Patients were grouped according to whether they had received volatile inhalational (INHA) or total IV anesthesia (TIVA). After excluding those who received both forms of anesthesia during the study period, Kaplan-Meier survival curves were constructed from the date of surgery to death. After propensity matching, univariate and multivariable regression models were used to compare hazard ratios for death.


A total of 11,395 anesthetics using INHA or TIVA were delivered in the study period. After exclusions, 3,316 patients (796 deaths, 24%) remained in the INHA group and 3,714 (504 deaths, 13.5%) in the TIVA group. After propensity matching, 2,607 patients remained in each group (597 deaths, 22.8%, in INHA group vs. 407, 15.6%, in TIVA group). Volatile inhalational anesthesia was associated with a hazard ratio of 1.59 (1.30 to 1.95) for death on univariate analysis and 1.46 (1.29 to 1.66) after multivariable analysis of known confounders in the matched group.


This retrospective analysis demonstrates an association between type of anesthetic delivered and survival. This analysis alongside biological plausibility should lead to urgent prospective work exploring the effect of anesthetic technique on survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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