We designed this study to evaluate postural stability in outpatients after either desflurane or propofol anesthesia. After IRB approval, 120 consenting women undergoing gynecological laparoscopic procedures were randomly assigned to receive either desflurane or propofol-based general anesthesia. After surgery, patients' postural stability was measured as body sway velocity by using a computerized force platform in the following conditions: 1) standing on a firm surface with eyes open versus closed and 2) standing on a foam surface with eyes open versus closed. These measurements were made before anesthesia, immediately after the patient achieved a Post-Anesthesia Discharge Score of 9, and at actual discharge home. At the time patients first achieved a Post-Anesthesia Discharge Score of 9, the body sway in the Propofol group was significantly more than in the Desflurane group when patients were asked to stand on a foam surface with eyes closed (testing the ability of using vestibular information for balance control). We concluded that the desflurane-based anesthetic was associated with better postural control than the propofol-based anesthetic in the early recovery period after outpatient gynecological laparoscopic procedures.
Implications: The residual effects of the short-acting general anesthetics desflurane and propofol on patient's balance function during recovery after surgery were assessed with a computerized force platform. The results showed that desflurane seemed to be associated with better postural control than propofol in the early recovery period.