Background: Pulmonary hypertension and associated pressure-overload right ventricular (RV) hypertrophy represent a tremendous challenge for the anesthesiologist, as optimal perioperative management is mandatory. However, the ideal anesthetic agent remains unknown because scientific evidence is lacking.
Methods: Twenty-eight rats were randomly assigned to a control or a monocrotaline group (60 mg kg). Four weeks later, animals were anesthetized, instrumented with a RV conductance catheter, and underwent well-controlled dose-responses to isoflurane, desflurane, and sevoflurane inhalation (minimum alveolar concentrations 0.5, 1.0, 1.5).
Results: Compared with controls, rats injected with monocrotaline presented with RV hypertrophy, increased afterload, and contractility, without change in cardiac output. The ratio of pressures in the right over the left circulation increased. The halogenated volatiles differently altered hemodynamics. Sevoflurane reduced RV contractility (more than 50%) and the right over left pressures ratio increased (from 0.41 ± 0.08 [SD] to 0.82 ± 0.14; P < 0.0001) secondary to profound concomitant systemic vasodilation, demonstrating a critical pressure gradient between right and left circulations. Despite significantly higher RV systolic pressures and afterload, desflurane decreased RV contractility much less (<10%; P < 0.0001 vs. sevoflurane) and maintained the right over left pressures ratio at more favorable values (0.47 ± 0.07; P < 0.0001 vs. sevoflurane). Isoflurane presented intermediate effects.
Conclusion: In the presence of pressure-overload RV hypertrophy, hemodynamics are better preserved under desflurane inhalation, whereas sevoflurane-and to a lesser extent isoflurane-cause large discrepancies on the left and right circulations, raising the right over left pressures ratio to critical levels despite a conserved cardiac output.