The Effect of Xenon Anesthesia on the Size of Experimental Myocardial Infarction

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Volatile anesthetics protect the myocardium from ischemia reperfusion damage. Our hypothesis for this study was that xenon reduces the size of myocardial infarction similar in extent to the reduction associated with ischemic preconditioning.


Thirty-six pigs weighing 30–35 kg were anesthetized with thiopental and then randomized into four groups: control (myocardial ischemia only), ischemic preconditioning (five 5-min episodes of intermittent myocardial ischemia), xenon preconditioning (three 10-min exposures to xenon 70% followed by myocardial ischemia), and xenon anesthesia (xenon 70%, continued before and after myocardial ischemia). Myocardial ischemia was induced by placing a tourniquet around the left anterior descending coronary artery for 60 min followed by 2 h of reperfusion. Myocardial infarct size and the area at risk for myocardial infarction were measured by Evans Blue and triphenyl tetrazolium chloride staining, respectively.


Mean (sd) myocardial infarct size was reduced from 64% ± 9% of the area at risk in the control group to 19% ± 12% with ischemic preconditioning (P < 0.001), and to 50% ± 9% with xenon anesthesia (P < 0.05 versus control, P < 0.001 versus ischemic preconditioning). Myocardial infarct size was not reduced with xenon preconditioning compared with the control group (59% ± 11%, P = 0.41).


Myocardial infarct size was reduced by ischemic preconditioning but less so by xenon anesthesia. Brief, intermittent exposure to xenon before myocardial ischemia did not reduce myocardial infarct size.

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