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Anesthesiology. 1998 Apr;88(4):866-73.

Isoflurane alters shivering patterns and reduces maximum shivering intensity.

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Department of Anesthesia, University of California, San Francisco, 94143-0648, USA.



Shivering can be characterized by its threshold (triggering core temperature), gain (incremental intensity increase with further core hypothermia), and maximum response intensity. Isoflurane produces a clonic muscular activity that is not a component of normal shivering. To the extent that clonic activity is superimposed on normal thermoregulatory shivering, the gain of shivering might be increased during isoflurane anesthesia. Conversely, volatile anesthetics decrease systemic oxygen consumption and peripherally inhibit skeletal muscle strength, which might limit maximum intensity despite central activation. The purpose of the present study was, therefore, to evaluate the effect of isoflurane shivering patterns and the gain and maximum intensity of shivering.


Ten volunteers were each studied in two separate protocols: (1) control (no drug) and (2) 0.7% end-tidal isoflurane. On each day, the mean skin temperature was maintained at 31 degrees C. Core temperature was then reduced by infusion of cold fluid until shivering intensity no longer increased. The core temperature triggering the initial increase in oxygen consumption defined the shivering threshold. The gain of shivering was defined by the slope of the core temperature versus oxygen consumption regression. Pectoralis and quadriceps electromyography was used to evaluate anesthetic-induced facilitation of clonic (5-7 Hz) muscular activity.


Isoflurane significantly decreased the shivering threshold from 36.4 +/- 0.3 to 34.2 +/- 0.8 degrees C. The increase in oxygen consumption was linear on the control day and was followed by sustained high-intensity activity. During isoflurane administration, shivering was characterized by bursts of intense shivering separated by quiescent periods. Isoflurane significantly increased the gain of shivering (as calculated from the initial increase), from -684 +/- 266 to -1483 +/- 752 ml x min(-1) x degrees C(-1). However, isoflurane significantly decreased the maximum intensity of shivering, from 706 +/- 144 to 489 +/- 80 ml/min. Relative electromyographic power in frequencies associated with clonus increased significantly when the volunteers were given isoflurane.


These data indicate that isoflurane anesthesia markedly changes the overall pattern of shivering during progressive hypothermia from a linear increase to an unusual saw-tooth pattern. They further suggest that clonic muscular activity combines with shivering to increase the initial gain of shivering during isoflurane anesthesia, but that isoflurane peripherally inhibits the maximum expression of shivering.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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