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For pediatric patients, sevoflurane may be an alternative to halothane, the anesthetic agent used most commonly for inhalational induction. The induction, maintenance, and emergence characteristics were studied in 120 unpremedicated children 1–12 yr of age randomly assigned to receive one of three anesthesia regimens: sevoflurane with oxygen (group S), sevoflurane with nitrous oxide and oxygen (group SN), or halothane with nitrous oxide and oxygen (group HN).Anesthetic was administered (via a Mapleson D, F or Bain circuit) beginning with face mask application in incremental doses to deliver maximum inspired concentrations of 4.5% halothane or 7% sevoflurane. End-tidal concentrations of anesthetic agents and vocal cord position were noted at the time of intubation. Elapsed time intervals from face mask application to loss of the eyelash reflex, intubation, surgical incision, and discontinuation of the anesthetic were measured. Heart rate, systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressures, and end-tidal anesthetic concentrations were measured at fixed intervals. Anesthetic MAC-hour durations were calculated. The end-tidal concentration of anesthetic was adjusted to 1 MAC (0.9% halothane, 2.5% sevoflurane) for at least the last 10 min of surgery. Intervals from discontinuation of anesthetic to hip flexion or bucking, extubation, administration of first postoperative analgesic, and attaining discharge criteria from recovery room were measured. Venous blood was sampled at anesthetic induction, at the end of anesthesia, and 1, 4, 6, 12, and 18–24 h after discontinuation of the anesthetic for determination of plasma inorganic fluoride content.Induction of anesthesia was satisfactory in groups SN and HN. Induction in group S was associated with a significantly greater incidence of excitement (35%) than in the other groups (5%), resulting in a longer time to intubation. The end-tidal minimum alveolar concentration multiple of potent inhalational anesthetic at the time of intubation was significantly greater in patients receiving halothane than in patients receiving sevoflurane. Induction time, vocal cord position at intubation, time to incision, duration of anesthesia, and MAC-hour duration were similar in the three groups. During emergence, the time to hip flexion was similar among the three groups, whereas the time to extubation, time to first analgesic, and time to attaining discharge criteria were significantly greater in group HN than in groups S and SN. Mean heart rate and systolic blood pressure decreased during induction in group HN but not in groups S and SN. The maximum serum fluoride concentration among all patients was 28 micro Meter.Sevoflurane with nitrous oxide provides satisfactory anesthetic induction and intubating conditions; however, induction using sevoflurane without nitrous oxide is associated with a high incidence of patient excitement and prolonged time to intubation. There were greater decreases in heart rate and systolic blood pressure during induction with halothane than with sevoflurane; however, these differences may be dose-related. The more rapid emergence with sevoflurane when compared with halothane is consistent with the low solubility of sevoflurane in blood and tissues. Children receiving sevoflurane for up to 9.6 MAC-hours did not develop high serum fluoride concentrations.