Regional and global myocardial circulatory and metabolic effects of isoflurane and halothane in patients with steal-prone coronary anatomy

D. D. Pulley, G. V. Kirvassilis, N. Kelermenos, K. Kater, B. Barzilai, R. E. Genton, C. Efstathiou, D. G. Lappas

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20 Scopus citations


The use of isoflurane in patients with coronary artery disease remains controversial because of the possibility of ''coronary steal''. In this study, the effects of isoflurane and halothane on global and regional myocardial blood flow and metabolism were compared, and the relationship between steal-induced myocardial ischemia and the administered volatile anesthetic was investigated in 40 patients with steal-prone coronary anatomy undergoing elective coronary artery bypass operations. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either isoflurane or halothane (0.5 MAC inspired concentration) immediately after induction with fentanyl (50 μg/kg). Hemodynamic measurements and blood samples were obtained at preinduction, postintubation, preincision, poststernotomy, at 60 min after beginning isoflurane or halothane, and precannulation (a total of 238 study events). Throughout the study, heart rate was kept constant by atrial pacing at approximately postintubation values while arterial pressure was maintained within 10% of postintubation values with fluid administration or phenylephrine infusion. Overall, systemic hemodynamic changes observed during the study were similar in the two groups. Myocardial ischemic episodes were defined as a new electrocardiographic ST-segment shift of ≥ 0.1 mV, new echocardiographic regional wall motion abnormalities (RWMA) and/or myocardial lactate production (MLP). A total of 18 new ischemic episodes were detected in 15 patients (7 episodes during isoflurane in 7 patients and 11 during halothane in 8 patients). Ten (56%) episodes were related to acute hemodynamic abnormalities, whereas 8 (44%) were random and unrelated to changes. Seven episodes were detected by echocardiography (38%), 6 by MLP (33%), and 1 by ECG (6%) only, whereas concomitant echocardiographic abnormalities and MLP were observed during 2 episodes (11%), echocardiographic and ECG during 1 (6%), and ECG and MLP during 1 other (6%). Ratios of regional to global coronary venous flow, coronary vascular resistance, myocardial oxygen content, and lactate extraction, along with hemodynamic data obtained during these episodes, do not support coronary steal for the development of myocardial ischemia. We conclude that in patients with steal-prone coronary anatomy anesthetized with fentanyl, neither isoflurane nor halothane administered at concentrations used in the current study is likely to cause myocardial ischemia by the coronary steal mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)756-766
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991


  • Anesthetics, volatile: halothane; isoflurane
  • Arteries, coronary: steal
  • Heart: coronary artery disease; coronary blood flow; myocardial metabolism; myocardial ischemia


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