Epidural anesthesia potentiates sedative drug effects and decreases minimum alveolar concentration (MAC). The authors hypothesized that epidural anesthesia also decreases the general anesthetic requirements for adequate depth of anesthesia as measured by Bispectral Index (BIS).Methods
After premedication with 0.02 mg/kg midazolam and 1 μg/kg fentanyl, 30 patients aged 20–65 yr were randomized in a double-blinded fashion to receive general anesthesia with either intravenous saline placebo or intravenous lidocaine control (1-mg/kg bolus dose; 25 μg · kg−1 · min−1). A matched group was prospectively assigned to receive epidural lidocaine (15 ml; 2%) with intravenous saline placebo. All patients received 4 mg/kg thiopental and 1 mg/kg rocuronium for tracheal intubation. After 10 min of a predetermined end-tidal sevoflurane concentration, BIS was measured. The ED50 of sevoflurane for each group was determined by up–down methodology based on BIS less than 50 (MACBIS50). Plasma lidocaine concentrations were measured.Results
The MACBIS50 of sevoflurane (0.59% end tidal) was significantly decreased with lidocaine epidural anesthesia compared with general anesthesia alone (0.92%) or with intravenous lidocaine (1 %;P < 0.0001). Plasma lidocaine concentrations in the intravenous lidocaine group (1.9 μg/ml) were similar to those in the epidural lidocaine group (2.0 μg/ml).Conclusions
Epidural anesthesia reduced by 34% the sevoflurane required for adequate depth of anesthesia. This effect was not a result of systemic lidocaine absorbtion, but may have been caused by deafferentation by epidural anesthesia or direct rostral spread of local anesthetic within the cerebrospinal fluid. Lower-than-expected concentrations of volatile agents may be sufficient during combined epidural–general anesthesia.