Object. Nitrous oxide has an adverse effect on cerebrovascular hemodynamics. Increased intracranial pressure, cerebral blood flow (CBF), cerebral metabolic rate of O2 (CMRO2), and reduced autoregulation indices have been reported, but their magnitudes are still being debated.
This study was designed to evaluate the effect of N2O on CBF and autoregulatory indexes during N2O—sevoflurane anesthesia in a prospective randomized controlled series of patients.
Methods. Two groups of 20 patients were studied on the basis of the use of N2O in the anesthetic gas mixture. The transient hyperemic response test, which relies on transcranial Doppler ultrasound techniques, was used to assess cerebral hemodynamics.
The time-averaged mean flow velocity, considered to be an index of actual CBF, increased significantly (p < 0.001) after introduction of N2O. The hyperemic response, considered as the index of autoregulatory potential, decreased significantly after introduction of N2O into the gas mixture (p < 0.001).
Conclusions. The increase in CBF and the reduction in autoregulatory indices suggest caution in using N2O during sevoflurane anesthesia, especially in patients with reduced autoregulatory reserve and during neurosurgical interventions. Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography is an efficacious method to evaluate the effects of anesthetic agents on CBF.