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Clinical pharmacokinetics of the inhalational anaesthetics

Clinical pharmacokinetics of the inhalational anaesthetics

Clinical Pharmacokinetics 12(3): 145-167

At present, the most widely used inhalational anaesthetics are the halogenated, inflammable vapours halothane, enflurane, isoflurane and the gas nitrous oxide. The anaesthetic effect of these agents is related to their tension or partial pressure in the brain, represented at equilibrium by the alveolar concentration. The minimum alveolar concentration for a specific agent is remarkably constant between individuals. The uptake and distribution of inhalational anaesthetics depends on inhaled concentration, pulmonary ventilation, solubility in blood, cardiac output and tissue uptake. Inhalational anaesthetics are mainly eliminated by pulmonary exhalation, but significant amounts of halothane are removed by hepatic metabolism. Inhalational agents currently in use have acceptable pharmacokinetic characteristics, and clinical acceptance depends on their potential for adverse effects. Induction of anaesthesia with halothane is rapid and relatively pleasant and it is the agent of choice for paediatric anaesthesia. Between 20 and 50% is metabolised, and the parent drug is a potent inhibitor of drug metabolism. Post-operatively enzyme induction may follow. The major disadvantages of halothane are myocardial depression, propensity to evoke cardiac arrhythmias and the rare but serious halothane hepatitis. Induction and recovery from enflurane anaesthesia is rapid. Metabolism accounts for 5 to 9% of the elimination. The metabolic product inorganic fluoride may in rare cases cause renal toxicity. Enflurane is a weak inhibitor of drug metabolism at anaesthetic concentrations. Enflurane depresses circulation more than halothane by reducing both myocardial contractility and systemic vascular resistance, but cardiac rhythm is stable. Enflurane anaesthesia may, unlike the other agents, induce epileptic activity. Enflurane is widely used as replacement for halothane in adults. Despite its low blood-gas solubility, the airway irritability of isoflurane precludes a faster induction of anaesthesia than with halothane. Isoflurane is almost resistant to biodegradation. Myocardial contractility is maintained during isoflurane anaesthesia and cardiac rhythm is stable except for the occurrence of tachycardia in some patients. Isoflurane is the inhalational agent of choice for neurosurgical operations. Sevoflurane is an experimental ether vapour: induction and recovery is fast and pleasant. It is metabolised to the same extent as enflurane and subnephrotoxic concentrations of inorganic fluoride may result. Sevoflurane has fewer respiratory and cardiovascular depressant effects than halothane and may be a future alternative for paediatric anaesthesia.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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Accession: 039576750

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PMID: 3555939

DOI: 10.2165/00003088-198712030-00001

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