Anesthesia and the microcirculation

Semin Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2009 Dec;13(4):249-58. doi: 10.1177/1089253209353134. Epub 2009 Dec 2.


There is increasing evidence that the microcirculation and its regulation are severely compromised during many pathological conditions, such as hemorrhage, sepsis, or trauma. The effects of anesthetic agents on macrohemodynamics were investigated intensively in the last several decades. Research regarding modern anesthetics and anesthesia techniques has increased knowledge regarding the nonanesthetic effects of anesthetic agents, including those on organ perfusion and the microcirculation. Alterations in microvascular reactivity, nitric oxide pathways, and cytokine release are presumably the main mechanisms of anesthetic-induced tissue perfusion changes. This review summarizes current methods of microcirculatory status assessment and current knowledge regarding the microcirculatory effects of intravenous and potent volatile anesthetics and anesthesia-related techniques under both normal and pathophysiological conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia / methods*
  • Anesthesia, Epidural / methods
  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / pharmacology*
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass*
  • Dogs
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation / drug effects*
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative / methods
  • Reperfusion


  • Anesthetics, Inhalation
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous