Desflurane versus propofol anesthesia: a comparative analysis in outpatients

Anesth Analg. 1993 May;76(5):936-41. doi: 10.1213/00000539-199305000-00004.


This study compares the induction, hemodynamic, and recovery characteristics of a general anesthetic with desflurane to one with propofol. Sixty outpatients presenting for orthopedic surgery received either a propofol induction of anesthesia followed by desflurane and nitrous oxide (Group 1), a propofol induction followed by propofol infusion and nitrous oxide (Group 2), a desflurane and nitrous oxide induction and maintenance (Group 3), or a desflurane induction and maintenance (Group 4). The quality of induction was inferior in Groups 3 and 4 with more breath-holding and excitation than in Groups 1 and 2. However, there was a more rapid emergence in Group 4 patients than any of the other groups. Group 4 patients were able to say their names (5.6 +/- 2.0 min vs 10.3 +/- 3.3 min, 8.6 +/- 3.1 min, and 9.3 +/- 1.5 min for Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively) sooner after the discontinuation of anesthesia. Nonetheless, intermediate recovery was similar in Groups 2 and 4 being numerically but not statistically more rapid than in Groups 1 and 3. This pattern of intermediate recovery was also demonstrated by psychomotor function test results. Although there was no difference between the groups in postoperative narcotic requirement, more patients in Group 3 vomited (50%) than in either Group 2 (0%) or Group 4 (12.5%). Hemodynamically, the anesthetics were very similar. Although desflurane was a difficult drug to use for induction of anesthesia, this study demonstrates that desflurane is a suitable maintenance anesthetic for ambulatory surgery because it provides a rapid awakening and an intermediate recovery similar to propofol.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures*
  • Anesthesia Recovery Period
  • Anesthesia, Inhalation*
  • Anesthesia, Intravenous*
  • Anesthetics
  • Desflurane
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Isoflurane / analogs & derivatives*
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthopedics*
  • Propofol*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors


  • Anesthetics
  • Desflurane
  • Isoflurane
  • Propofol