Feasibility and safety of xenon compared with sevoflurane anaesthesia in coronary surgical patients: a randomized controlled pilot study†

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To date, only limited data exist about the use of xenon as an anaesthetic agent in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. The favourable cardio- and neuroprotective properties of xenon might attenuate postoperative complications, improve outcome, and reduce the incidence of delirium. Thus, the aims of this study were to investigate the feasibility and safety of balanced xenon anaesthesia in patients undergoing cardiac surgery and to gather pilot data for a future randomized multicentre study.


Thirty patients undergoing elective coronary artery bypass grafting were enrolled in this randomized, single-blind controlled trial. They were randomized to receive balanced general anaesthesia with either xenon (45–50 vol%) or sevoflurane (1–1.4 vol%). The primary outcome was the occurrence of adverse events (AEs). Secondary outcome parameters were feasibility criteria (bispectral index, perioperative haemodynamic, and respiratory profile) and safety parameters (dosage of study treatments, renal function, intraoperative blood loss, need for inotropic support, regional cerebral tissue oxygenation). Furthermore, at predefined time points, systemic and pulmonary haemodynamics were assessed by the use of a pulmonary artery catheter.


There were no patient characteristic differences between the groups. Patients undergoing xenon anaesthesia did not differ with respect to the incidence of AE (6 vs 8, P=0.464) compared with the sevoflurane group. No differences were detected regarding secondary feasibility and safety criteria. The haemodynamic and respiratory profile was comparable between the treatment groups.


Balanced xenon anaesthesia is feasible and safe compared with sevoflurane anaesthesia in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery.


CARDIAX: A pre- and post-coronary artery bypass graft implantation disposed application of xenon.

Clinical trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01285271; EudraCT-number: 2010-023942-63. Approved by the ethics committee ‘Ethik-Kommission an der Medizinischen Fakultät der Rheinisch-Westfälischen Technischen Hochschule Aachen (RWTH Aachen)’: EK-218/10.

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