Desflurane vs. sevoflurane as the main inhaled anaesthetic for spontaneous breathing via a laryngeal mask for varicose vein day surgery: a prospective randomized study

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Sevoflurane has become widely used in day surgery; however, desflurane may be a valuable alternative even in this setting. This study compares emergence from anaesthesia for day surgery with spontaneous breathing using either desflurane or sevoflurane.


This prospective, randomized, single-blinded study examined 70 ASA III patients undergoing elective ambulatory varicose vein surgery. Primary endpoint was emergence time (cessation of anaesthetic gas to communicating). Secondary endpoints included post-operative pain, nausea, time to discharge, and patient satisfaction. Patients were anaesthetized according to a standardized protocol including multimodal analgesia and antiemetic therapy and were randomized to receive sevoflurane or desflurane as the main anaesthetic while breathing spontaneously through a laryngeal mask airway. Fresh gas flow was oxygen in air 1: 2 l/min.


Intra-operative anaesthesia was uneventful apart from airway irritation observed in 5/35 desflurane and 1/35 sevoflurane patients. Emergence was 25–40% faster in patients anaesthetized with desflurane. Pain and post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV) were equally infrequent in both groups. Overall, patient satisfaction was high with no difference between the groups.


Desflurane is associated with a faster emergence with no differences during the post-operative course except a somewhat higher incidence of airway irritation.

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