Effect of Propofol Infusion on Splanchnic Hemodynamics and Liver Oxygen Consumption in the Rat: A Dose-Response Study

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Propofol has been used for the maintenance of anesthesia. The effects of propofol infusion on splanchnic hemodynamics and liver oxygen consumption, however, have not been reported. In the current investigation, the authors studied the effects of a continuous infusion of propofol on systemic and splanchnic hemodynamics using a new method to measure liver oxygen consumption in awake control and anesthetized rats.


Cannulas were inserted into the left ventricle, femorla artery, portal vein, and hepatic vein during ether anesthesia, and the rats were allowed to awaken and recover for 3–4 h before study. Animals were infused for 30 min with either saline (controls) or propofol at a rate of 300, 600, 900, or 1,200 μg.kg-1·min-1. Cardiac output and organ blood flows were measured using radiolabelled microspheres, and blood samples from the femoral artery, portal vein, and hepatic vein were used to determine liver oxygen consumption.


Mean arterial pressure decreased in a dose-dependent manner with a 25% reduction at the highest infusion rate. Systemic vascular resistance similarly decreased, whereas cardiac output remained unchanged at all the infusion rates. Hepatic arterial blood flow increased in a dose-dependent fashion over the dose range studied, to a maximum increase of 120%. Portal tributary blood flow increased by 30% at the highest infusion rate. Total liver blood flow increased in a dose-dependent manner to a maximum of 38%. Total oxygen delivery to the liver by the hepatic artery and portal vein increased in a dose-dependent fashion to a maximum increase of 51% at an infusion rate of 1,200 μg·kg-1·min-1. The percent of oxygen extracted by the liver was not altered by propofol infusion, and hepatic venous oxygen saturation did not decrease at any dose studied. Coronary and renal blood flows were not altered. Arterial Paco2 increased from 31 ± 2 mmHg in awake control rats to 41 ± 2 mmHg in spontaneously breathing rats infused with 1,200 μ·kg-1·min-1 propofol.


The maintenance of anesthesia using an infusion of propofol resulted in an increase in liver oxygen consumption that was fully compensated for by an increase in oxygen delivery to the liver. Splanchnic hemodynamics and liver oxygenation are not adversely affected during maintenance of anesthesia with propofol in the normal rat.

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