The Electrophysiologic Effects of Volatile Anesthetics and Sufentanil on the Normal Atrioventricular Conduction System and Accessory Pathways in Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome

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Abstract

Background

The effects of volatile agents and sufentanil anesthesia on the electrophysiologic properties of the accessory pathway and on the incidence of intraoperative tachyarrhythmias in patients with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome are unknown. Therefore, we studied these agents for their use in patients undergoing ablative procedures or requiring a general anesthetic for other surgeries.

Methods

Twenty-one patients with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome undergoing surgical ablation were anesthetized with sufentanil (20 μg/kg), lorazepam (0.06 mg/kg), and vecuronium (20 mg). After sternotomy, the electrophysiologic study during antegrade stimulation consisted of the effective refractory period of the right atrium, atrioventricular node, and accessory pathway; the shortest cycle length of the atrioventricular node and accessory pathway; and the coupling interval. During retrograde stimulation, the effective refractory period of the right ventricle and accessory pathway and the shortest cycle length of the accessory pathway were measured and compared to preoperative electrophysiologic values. Patients then were randomized to receive 1 MAC of halothane, isoflurane, or enflurane, and the electrophysiologic study was repeated.

Results

Sufentanil-lorazepam caused mild prolongation (P < 0.05) of the effective refractory period of the accessory pathway and the shortest cycle length of the atrioventricular node. Enflurane and isoflurane significantly prolonged all parameters related to refractoriness during antegrade conduction, with enflurane having the largest effect. During retrograde conduction, isoflurane prolonged the effective refractory period of the right ventricle and accessory pathway and the shortest cycle length of the accessory pathway, whereas enflurane prolonged only the accessory pathway effective refractory period and shortest cycle length. Halothane had the least effect on refractoriness, causing significant prolongation of the atrioventricular node effective refractory period and the shortest cycle length of the accessory pathway only during antegrade conduction. The coupling interval, a measure of the period of vulnerability to supraventricular tachycardia, was prolonged only by halothane and isoflurane. Supraventricular tachycardia was still obtainable in all patients.

Conclusions

Sufentanil-lorazepam has no clinically significant effect on the electrophysiologic expression of the accessory pathway. Of the volatile agents, enflurane most, isoflurane next, and halothane least increased refractoriness within the accessory and atrioventricular pathways. Therefore, administration of these volatile agents during ablative procedures may confound interpretation of postablative studies used to determine the success of ablation treatment. Conversely, in patients with preexcitation syndrome requiring general anesthesia for nonablative procedures, volatile agents may reduce the incidence of perioperative tachyarrhythmias because of their effects on refractoriness. Enflurane would be the agent of choice because it increases refractoriness the most without prolonging the coupling interval.

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