Anesthetic Neuroprotection in Experimental Stroke in Rodents: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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Patients undergoing endovascular therapy for acute ischemic stroke may require general anesthesia to undergo the procedure. At present, there is little clinical evidence to guide the choice of anesthetic in this acute setting. The clinical implications of experimental studies demonstrating anesthetic neuroprotection are poorly understood. Here, the authors evaluated the impact of anesthetic treatment on neurologic outcome in experimental stroke.


Controlled studies of anesthetics in stroke using the filament occlusion model were identified in electronic databases up to December 15, 2015. The primary outcome measures, infarct volume, and neurologic deficit score were used to calculate the normalized mean difference for each comparison. Meta-analysis of normalized mean difference values provided estimates of neuroprotection and contributions of predefined factors: study quality, the timing of treatment, and the duration of ischemia.


In 80 retrieved publications anesthetic treatment reduced neurologic injury by 28% (95% CI, 24 to 32%; P < 0.0001). Internal validity was high: publication bias enhanced the effect size by 4% or less, effect size increased with study quality (P = 0.0004), and approximately 70% of studies were adequately powered. Apart from study quality, no predefined factor influenced neuroprotection. Neuroprotection failed in animals with comorbidities. Neuroprotection by anesthetics was associated with prosurvival mechanisms.


Anesthetic neuroprotection is a robust finding in studies using the filament occlusion model of ischemic stroke and should be assumed to influence outcomes in studies using this model. Neuroprotection failed in female animals and animals with comorbidities, suggesting that the results in young male animals may not reflect human stroke.

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