Department of Medicine Publications

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Anesthesia and Analgesia





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Hyperhomocysteinemia is an independent risk factor for coronary artery and cerebrovascular disease, but its significance in the perioperative period is unknown. Nitrous oxide inhibits methionine synthase, which aids in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. In this prospective, controlled, randomized study, we determined the effect of intraoperative nitrous oxide exposure on postoperative plasma homocysteine concentrations. Twenty ASA physical status I-III patients, aged >18 yr, presenting for elective craniotomy, were randomized to receive general anesthesia with or without nitrous oxide (inspired nitrous oxide >50%). Plasma was sampled before the induction of anesthesia, on arrival in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) after discontinuation of nitrous oxide, and 24 h after induction. There was a significant increase (22.6 ± 11.4 vs 13.0 ± 4.7 μmol/L; P = 0.0038 for postoperative versus preinduction values) in plasma homocysteine concentrations in the nitrous oxide group on arrival in the PACU and for 24 h. In the nonnitrous oxide group, mean plasma homocysteine concentrations did not change (9.5 ± 1.9 vs 9.8 ± 1.6 μmol/L; P = 0.86 for postoperative versus preinduction values). The change in plasma homocysteine concentrations in the nitrous oxide group was significantly different from that in the nonnitrous group (P = 0.0031). We conclude that the use of intraoperative nitrous oxide leads to significant increases in perioperative plasma homocysteine concentrations. Implications: Short-term exposure to nitrous oxide led to significant increases in plasma homocysteine. Further investigations are required to determine the clinical significance of this change.



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