Dexmedetomidine Combined with General Anesthesia Provides Similar Intraoperative Stress Response Reduction When Compared with a Combined General and Epidural Anesthetic Technique

Li, Yun MD; Wang, Bin MD; Zhang, Li-li MD; He, Shu-fang PhD; Hu, Xian-wen MD; Wong, Gordon T. C. MD; Zhang, Ye PhD

doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000001165
Regional Anesthesia: Research Report

BACKGROUND: Epidural anesthesia may attenuate the sympathetic hyperactivity and stress response from surgery. In this study, we compared the stress response, hemodynamic variables, and recovery profiles of patients undergoing total IV anesthesia (TIVA) and intraoperative dexmedetomidine with those receiving epidural anesthesia and TIVA.

METHODS: Ninety patients undergoing elective open gastrectomy under TIVA were recruited. The dexmedetomidine group (group D, n = 30) received IV dexmedetomidine 0.6 μg/kg before the induction of general anesthesia, followed by dexmedetomidine 0.4 μg/kg/h until peritoneal closure. The control group (group C, n = 30) received volume-matched normal saline infusion as placebo. The epidural group (group E, n = 30) received epidural anesthesia with 0.375% ropivacaine combined with TIVA. The hemodynamic variables and recovery characteristics during emergence were evaluated. Blood samples for norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (E), cortisol (Cor), and cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α [TNF-α], interleukin [IL]-6, and IL-10) were obtained before the administration of dexmedetomidine or epidural anesthesia (baseline), immediately after tracheal intubation, upon incision, at the time of celiac exploration, and at tracheal extubation.

RESULTS: Compared with group E, there were no differences in the plasma concentration levels of NE, E, Cor, and cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10) in group D at all time points. The levels of NE and E in groups D and E were significantly lower than that in group C, at all time points following induction (all P < 0.0001 except at incision which were P = 0.001 and P = 0.004), and the level of Cor in groups D and E was significantly lower than that in group C at celiac exploration (P = 0.017 and P = 0.019) and immediately after tracheal extubation (P < 0.0001). The levels of TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10 increased after the celiac exploration in the 3 groups. The levels of plasma TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-6/IL-10 ratio were higher in group C than in groups D and E at celiac exploration and tracheal extubation (all P < 0.0001 except at celiac exploration which were P = 0.005 and P =0.038 for TNF-α and P = 0.049 and P = 0.038 for IL-6/IL-10 ratio). In group D, the heart rate was significantly slower after commencing dexmedetomidine and remained significantly slower throughout the operative course (all P < 0.0001 except at tracheal extubation which was P = 0.032). The number of patients who required intervention because of intraoperative hypotension was significantly higher in group E (36.7%) compared with groups D and C (13.3% and 10.0%) (P = 0.037, P = 0.015). The times to eye opening and tracheal extubation were similar in all groups. There were fewer incidences of agitation in group D (6.7 %) than in group C (26.6%) (P = 0.038).

CONCLUSIONS: When used in conjunction with TIVA, intraoperative dexmedetomidine blunts surgical stress responses to an extent comparable to combined epidural and general anesthesia without compromising hemodynamic stability and with minimal adverse effects during the intraoperative period.

Published ahead of print January 25, 2016

From the *Department of Anesthesiology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China; Department of Anesthesiology, Yijishan Hospital of Wannan Medical College, Wuhu, China; and Department of Anesthesiology, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

Accepted for publication December 11, 2015.

Published ahead of print January 25, 2016

Funding: This work was supported by the Annual Key Project in Science Department Foundation of Anhui Province, China (No. 1301043030).

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to Ye Zhang, PhD, Department of Anesthesiology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, No. 678, FuRong Rd., Hefei, China, 230601. Address e-mail to

© 2016 International Anesthesia Research Society