Effect of nitrous oxide anesthesia on plasma homocysteine and endothelial function.
ABSTRACT Endothelial function is impaired with hyperhomocysteinemia. Plasma homocysteine is increased by nitrous oxide anesthesia. The current study was designed to determine whether endothelial function is impaired after surgery and whether this is made worse by exposure to nitrous oxide.
The authors studied 59 patients with cardiovascular disease undergoing noncardiac surgery. Patients were randomly allocated to nitrous oxide-based anesthesia (n = 25) or nitrous oxide-free anesthesia (control, n = 34). Endothelial function was measured by flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery before and 24 h after surgery. In addition, blood was drawn at both time points for the measurements of plasma homocysteine, folate, L-arginine, L-citrulline, asymmetric dimethylarginine, and nitrate concentrations.
The median duration of general anesthesia was 4.5 h. Patients had significantly lower flow-mediated dilation after surgery (5.1 +/- 3.3 to 3.0 +/- 4.1%; P = 0.001). Duration of anesthesia affected endothelial function. In the nitrous oxide group, there was an inverse correlation with flow-mediated dilation (r = -0.60, P = 0.004), but in the control group, there was a positive correlation (r = 0.61, P < 0.001). When compared with control, nitrous oxide exposure was associated with a significant increase in postoperative homocysteine (mean difference, 4.9 microm; 95% confidence interval, 2.8-7.0 microm; P < 0.0005) and decrease in flow-mediated dilation (3.2%; 95% confidence interval, 0.1-5.3%; P = 0.001). Nitrous oxide exposure was not associated with change in nitric oxide substrates.
Nitrous oxide-based anesthesia increased plasma homocysteine and significantly impaired endothelial function in patients undergoing noncardiac surgery. Nitrous oxide-based anesthesia could be a risk factor for postoperative cardiovascular morbidity.
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ABSTRACT: Nitrous oxide is the longest serving member of the anesthesiologist's pharmacologic armamentarium but remains a source of controversy because of fears over its adverse effects. Recently, the Evaluation of Nitrous oxide In a Gas Mixture for Anaesthesia (ENIGMA) trial reported that nitrous oxide use increases postoperative complications; further preclinical reports have suggested that nitrous oxide may contribute to neurocognitive dysfunction in the young and elderly. Therefore, nitrous oxide's longevity in anesthetic practice is under threat. In this article, the authors discuss the evidence for the putative toxicity of nitrous oxide, from either patient or occupational exposure, within the context of the mechanism of nitrous oxide's action. Although it would seem prudent to avoid nitrous oxide in certain vulnerable populations, current evidence in support of a more widespread prescription from clinical practice is unconvincing.Anesthesiology 11/2008; 109(4):707-22. DOI:10.1097/ALN.0b013e3181870a17
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ABSTRACT: Globally there are >200 million major surgical procedures undertaken annually, and about 20% of these involve patients who have coronary artery disease. Many receive nitrous oxide, which impairs methionine synthase, thus inhibiting folate synthesis and increasing postoperative homocysteine levels. Nitrous oxide anesthesia leads to postoperative endothelial dysfunction, and there is some evidence that it increases myocardial ischemia and, possibly, myocardial infarction. We have initiated the Nitrous oxide and perioperative cardiac morbidity (ENIGMA-II) Trial to test the hypothesis that in inpatients undergoing anesthesia for major noncardiac surgery, avoidance of nitrous oxide will reduce the incidence of death and major cardiovascular events. ENIGMA-II is a 7,000-patient, international randomized trial involving patients at risk of coronary artery disease undergoing noncardiac surgery. The patients, health care providers (except for the anesthesiologists), data collectors, and outcome adjudicators are blinded to whether patients receive nitrous oxide-containing or nitrous oxide-free anesthetic. The primary outcome is a composite of death and major nonfatal events (ie, myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, pulmonary embolism, and stroke) at 30 days after surgery. At present, ENIGMA-II has randomized >1,000 patients in 22 hospitals in 5 countries. To date, patients' mean age is 70 years, 66% are men, 38% have a history of coronary artery disease, 19% have a history of cerebrovascular disease, and 84% have a history of hypertension. Most patients have undergone intra-abdominal 28%, vascular 32%, and orthopedic 16% surgery. The ENIGMA-II Trial will be the largest study yet conducted to ascertain the benefits and risks of removing nitrous oxide from the gas mixture in anesthesia. The results of this large international trial will guide the clinical care of the hundreds of millions of adults undergoing noncardiac surgery annually.American heart journal 03/2009; 157(3):488-494.e1. DOI:10.1016/j.ahj.2008.11.015