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Clinical Research

Does halothane anaesthesia decrease the metabolic and endocrine stress responses of newborn infants undergoing operation?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 05 March 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:668
  1. Kanwal J S Anand,
  2. W G Sippell,
  3. N M Schofield,
  4. A Aynsley-Green


    Concern about the side effects of various anaesthetic agents in newborn infants has led to the widespread use of anaesthesia with unsupplemented nitrous oxide and oxygen with muscle relaxants in such patients. To investigate the efficacy of such a regimen 36 neonates undergoing operations were randomised to two groups: one group received anaesthesia with nitrous oxide and curare alone and the other was additionally given halothane. Concentrations of metabolites and hormones were measured before and at the end of operation and at six, 12, and 24 hours after operation and the values compared between the two groups. Neonates given halothane anaesthesia showed decreased hormonal responses to operation, with significant differences between the two groups in the changes in adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol concentrations and the ratio of insulin to glucagon concentration. Changes in blood concentrations of glucose and total ketone bodies and plasma concentrations of non-esterified fatty acids were also decreased in neonates receiving halothane anaesthesia. Neonates given anaesthesia with unsupplemented nitrous oxide showed significantly greater increases in the urinary ratio of 3-methylhistidine to creatinine concentration and their clinical condition was also more unstable during and after operation.

    Unless specifically contraindicated potent anaesthesia with halothane or other anaesthetic agents should be given to all neonates undergoing surgical operations as it decreases their stress responses and improves their clinical stability during and after operation.

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