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Studies of the coronary vasodilating properties of isoflurane have produced inconsistent results. Isoflurane has been reported to cause minimal or no coronary vasodilation, mild dose-related vasodilation, or even near-maximal coronary vasodilation. The current study was performed to clarify the direct coronary vasodilating potency of isoflurane.We determined the vasodilating properties of isoflurane in regionally perfused swine myocardium. Six domestic swine were anesthetized with pentobarbital and fentanyl. The left anterior descending artery (LAD) was cannulated and perfused with blood drawn from the carotid artery and passed thorough a membrane oxygenator. LAD arterial flow was controlled by a calibrated roller pump with continuous digital readout, and LAD arterial pressure was measured directly. The anterior interventricular vein was cannulated and dimension crystals placed in the LAD-perfused myocardium. The vasodilation response to 0, 1, 2, and 3% isoflurane administered via the membrane oxygenator was determined and compared to maximal vasodilation produced by regional intracoronary administration of adenosine.Systemic blood pressure and heart rate remained constant throughout the experiment. With 3% isoflurane, systolic shortening and regional myocardial oxygen consumption decreased by 60 and 20%, respectively. The same concentration increased coronary blood flow by 51 ± 34% and reduced coronary vascular resistance by 32.9 ± 11.0%. Neither coronary blood flow nor coronary vascular resistance was affected with 1% isoflurane. Regional coronary administration of adenosine produced much greater changes in both coronary blood flow (+591%) and coronary vascular resistance (-92.5%). Isoflurane increased the venous oxygen content of the anterior interventricular vein in a dose-dependent fashion from 4.85 vol% at control to 6.17, 7.01, and 8.63 vol% at 1, 2, and 3% isoflurane, respectively.We conclude that isoflurane is a mild dose-dependent coronary vasodilator. At a 1% concentration, the coronary vasodilating properties of isoflurane are minimal.