Desflurane. A review of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties and its efficacy in general anaesthesia
Patel SS, Goa KL.
Adis International Limited,
Auckland, New Zealand.
Drugs. 1995 Oct;50(4):742-67


Desflurane is a halogenated ether inhalation general anaesthetic agent with low solubility in blood and body tissues, and approximately one-fifth the potency of isoflurane. The pharmacodynamic properties of desflurane generally resemble those of isoflurane; thus, it produces dose-dependent depression of the central nervous and cardiorespiratory systems, and tetanic fade at the neuromuscular junction. The alveolar equilibration of desflurane is rapid (90% complete at 30 minutes compared with 73% for isoflurane). Both desflurane and isoflurane are distributed to various tissues to a similar extent. Desflurane is resistant to chemical degradation and undergoes negligible metabolism (approximately equal to 10% of that seen with isoflurane). Desflurane 'wash-out' is approximately equal to 2 to 2.5 times faster than that of isoflurane in the first 2 hours after discontinuation of anaesthesia. The low solubility of desflurane facilitates a rapid induction of anaesthesia and precise control of the depth of anaesthesia (during maintenance). Results from a few clinical studies indicate that emergence from desflurane is significantly earlier (by approximately equal to 2 to 6 minutes) than that from propofol anaesthesia, whereas other studies do not concur. In comparison with isoflurane, emergence from desflurane anaesthesia is significantly earlier (by 5 minutes) after ambulatory and approximately equal to 50% earlier (also significant) after nonambulatory surgical procedures. Limited comparative studies with halothane or sevoflurane also suggest an earlier time of emergence from desflurane anaesthesia. Comparative studies of desflurane and propofol, and other inhalation agents, indicate that the times to toleration of oral fluids, sitting and discharge from recovery room are similar, regardless of the general anaesthetic agent administered. However, some limited data in elderly patients (aged > 65 years) suggest that this patient group spends a significantly shorter time in the postanaesthesia care unit after desflurane than after isoflurane anaesthesia. Differences, if any, in the recovery of cognitive and psychomotor functions after desflurane or propofol anaesthesia remain unclear. However, in comparison with isoflurane anaesthesia, recovery of these functions (up to 45 minutes post-operatively) occurs earlier after desflurane. Significantly fewer patients are subjectively impaired (i.e. drowsy, clumsy, fatigued or confused) upon recovery from desflurane than from isoflurane anaesthesia. Likewise, significantly fewer adult patients are delirious when recovering from desflurane than from isoflurane anaesthesia, though in paediatric patients delirium is more likely when recovering from desflurane than from halothane anaesthesia. Haemodynamic stability during coronary artery surgery is as well maintained with desflurane as with isoflurane, and the drug does not worsen the adverse postoperative outcomes
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