General anesthesia improves fetal cerebral oxygenation without evidence of subsequent neuronal injury.
Anesthetic exposure during pregnancy is viewed as a relatively routine medical practice. However, recent rodent studies have suggested that common anesthetic agents can damage the developing brain. Here we assessed this claim in a higher order species by exposing previously instrumented near-term pregnant sheep at gestational day 122 (+/-1) to a combination of midazolam, sodium thiopental, and isoflurane at clinically relevant doses and means of anesthetic delivery (i.e., active ventilation). Four hours of maternal general anesthesia produced an initial increase in fetal systemic oxygenation and a sustained increase in fetal cerebral oxygenation, as determined by in utero near-infrared spectroscopy. Postexposure monitoring failed to identify changes in physiologic status that could be injurious to the fetal brain. Finally, through the histologic assessment of noninstrumented sheep at the same gestational time point, we found no evidence for a direct fetal neuro-toxic effect of our triple-drug regimen. Collectively, these results appear to corroborate the presumed safety of inhalational anesthetic use during pregnancy.
McClaine, RJ; Uemura, K; de la Fuente, SG; Manson, RJ; Booth, JV; White, WD; Campbell, KA; McClaine, DJ; Benni, PB; Eubanks, WS; Reynolds, JD
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