General anesthesia improves fetal cerebral oxygenation without evidence of subsequent neuronal injury.


Journal Article

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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McClaine, RJ; Uemura, K; de la Fuente, SG; Manson, RJ; Booth, JV; White, WD; Campbell, KA; McClaine, DJ; Benni, PB; Eubanks, WS; Reynolds, JD

Published Date

  • August 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 25 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 1060 - 1069

PubMed ID

  • 15758947

Pubmed Central ID

  • 15758947

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0271-678X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/sj.jcbfm.9600094


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States