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1.  Sex differences in pain: a brief review of clinical and experimental findings 
Recent years have witnessed substantially increased research regarding sex differences in pain. The expansive body of literature in this area clearly suggests that men and women differ in their responses to pain, with increased pain sensitivity and risk for clinical pain commonly being observed among women. Also, differences in responsivity to pharmacological and non-pharmacological pain interventions have been observed; however, these effects are not always consistent and appear dependent on treatment type and characteristics of both the pain and the provider. Although the specific aetiological basis underlying these sex differences is unknown, it seems inevitable that multiple biological and psychosocial processes are contributing factors. For instance, emerging evidence suggests that genotype and endogenous opioid functioning play a causal role in these disparities, and considerable literature implicates sex hormones as factors influencing pain sensitivity. However, the specific modulatory effect of sex hormones on pain among men and women requires further exploration. Psychosocial processes such as pain coping and early-life exposure to stress may also explain sex differences in pain, in addition to stereotypical gender roles that may contribute to differences in pain expression. Therefore, this review will provide a brief overview of the extant literature examining sex-related differences in clinical and experimental pain, and highlights several biopsychosocial mechanisms implicated in these male–female differences. The future directions of this field of research are discussed with an emphasis aimed towards further elucidation of mechanisms which may inform future efforts to develop sex-specific treatments.
PMCID: PMC3690315  PMID: 23794645
gender differences; opioid analgesics; pain; pain perception; sex differences
2.  Psychosocial interventions for managing pain in older adults: outcomes and clinical implications† 
Interest in the use of psychosocial interventions to help older adults manage pain is growing. In this article, we review this approach. The first section reviews the conceptual background for psychosocial interventions with a special emphasis on the biopsychosocial model of pain. The second section highlights three psychosocial interventions used with older adults: cognitive behavioural therapy, emotional disclosure, and mind–body interventions (specifically mindfulness-based stress reduction and yoga). The final section of the paper highlights important future directions for work in this area.
PMCID: PMC3690316  PMID: 23794650
age; chronic pain
3.  Assessment of patients with chronic pain 
Chronic pain is a public health concern affecting 20–30% of the population of Western countries. Although there have been many scientific advances in the understanding of the neurophysiology of pain, precisely assessing and diagnosing a patient's chronic pain problem is not straightforward or well-defined. How chronic pain is conceptualized influences how pain is evaluated and the factors considered when making a chronic pain diagnosis. There is no one-to-one relationship between the amount or type of organic pathology and pain intensity, but instead, the chronic pain experience is shaped by a myriad of biomedical, psychosocial (e.g. patients' beliefs, expectations, and mood), and behavioural factors (e.g. context, responses by significant others). Assessing each of these three domains through a comprehensive evaluation of the person with chronic pain is essential for treatment decisions and to facilitate optimal outcomes. This evaluation should include a thorough patient history and medical evaluation and a brief screening interview where the patient's behaviour can be observed. Further assessment to address questions identified during the initial evaluation will guide decisions as to what additional assessments, if any, may be appropriate. Standardized self-reported instruments to evaluate the patient's pain intensity, functional abilities, beliefs and expectations, and emotional distress are available, and can be administered by the physician, or a referral for in depth evaluation can be made to assist in treatment planning.
PMCID: PMC3841375  PMID: 23794641
assessment; chronic pain; measurement; multidimensional
4.  Impact of anaesthetics and surgery on neurodevelopment: an update 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(Suppl 1):i53-i72.
Accumulating preclinical and clinical evidence suggests the possibility of neurotoxicity from neonatal exposure to general anaesthetics. Here, we review the weight of the evidence from both human and animal studies and discuss the putative mechanisms of injury and options for protective strategies. Our review identified 55 rodent studies, seven primate studies, and nine clinical studies of interest. While the preclinical data consistently demonstrate robust apoptosis in the nervous system after anaesthetic exposure, only a few studies have performed cognitive follow-up. Nonetheless, the emerging evidence that the primate brain is vulnerable to anaesthetic-induced apoptosis is of concern. The impact of surgery on anaesthetic-induced brain injury has not been adequately addressed yet. The clinical data, comprising largely retrospective cohort database analyses, are inconclusive, in part due to confounding variables inherent in these observational epidemiological approaches. This places even greater emphasis on prospective approaches to this problem, such as the ongoing GAS trial and PANDA study.
PMCID: PMC3667344  PMID: 23542078
brain, anaesthesia, molecular effects; nerve, damage (postoperative); nerve, neurotransmitters; nerve, regeneration
5.  Isoflurane and sevoflurane increase interleukin-6 levels through the nuclear factor-kappa B pathway in neuroglioma cells 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(Suppl 1):i82-i91.
Isoflurane can increase pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-6 levels. However, the up-stream mechanism remains unknown. Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) promotes the generation of pro-inflammatory cytokines. We examined the effects of isoflurane and sevoflurane on the NF-κB signalling pathway and its association with IL-6 levels in cultured cells.
H4 human neuroglioma cells (H4 cells), and mouse primary neurones and microglia were treated with 2% isoflurane or 4.1% sevoflurane for 6 h, for analysis of IL-6 and NF-κB. Pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (an NF-κB inhibitor) or 2-deoxy-d-glucose (2-DG) (an inhibitor of glucose glycolysis) was applied 1 h before anaesthetic treatment.
Isoflurane or sevoflurane treatment increased the levels of IL-6 [isoflurane: 410% (54); sevoflurane: 290% (24)], the nuclear levels of NF-κB [isoflurane: 170% (36); sevoflurane: 320% (30)], and the transcription activity of NF-κB in H4 cells. Moreover, isoflurane enhanced the transcription activity of NF-κB in mouse microglia, but not primary neurones. Finally, pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate and 2-DG attenuated isoflurane-induced increases in IL-6 and NF-κB, and the transcription activity of NF-κB.
These studies in H4 cells suggest that the NF-κB signalling pathway could contribute to isoflurane or sevoflurane-induced neuroinflammation. This could lead to the targeted intervention of anaesthetic-induced neuroinflammation.
PMCID: PMC3667345  PMID: 23604542
anaesthetic; interleukin-6; NF-κB
6.  Isoflurane affects the cytoskeleton but not survival, proliferation, or synaptogenic properties of rat astrocytes in vitro 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(Suppl 1):i19-i28.
More than half of the cells in the brain are glia and yet the impact of general anaesthetics on these cells is largely unexamined. We hypothesized that astroglia, which are strongly implicated in neuronal well-being and synapse formation and function, are vulnerable to adverse effects of isoflurane.
Cultured rat astrocytes were treated with 1.4% isoflurane in air or air alone for 4 h. Viability, proliferation, and cytoskeleton were assessed by colorimetric assay, immunocytochemistry, or a migration assay at the end of treatment or 2 days later. Also, primary rat cortical neurones were treated for 4 days with conditioned medium from control [astrocyte-conditioned media (ACM)], or isoflurane-exposed astrocytes (Iso-ACM) and synaptic puncta were assessed by synapsin 1 and PSD-95 immunostaining.
By several measures, isoflurane did not kill astrocytes. Nor, based on incorporation of a thymidine analogue, did it inhibit proliferation. Isoflurane had no effect on F-actin but reduced expression of α-tubulin and glial fibrillary acidic protein both during exposure (P<0.05 and P<0.001, respectively) and 2 days later (P<0.01), but did not impair astrocyte motility. ACM increased formation of PSD-95 but not synapsin 1 positive puncta in neuronal cultures, and Iso-ACM was equally effective.
Isoflurane decreased expression of microtubule and intermediate filament proteins in astrocytes in vitro, but did not affect their viability, proliferation, motility, and ability to support synapses.
PMCID: PMC3667346  PMID: 23722058
astrocytes; isoflurane
7.  Propofol-induced apoptosis of neurones and oligodendrocytes in fetal and neonatal rhesus macaque brain 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(Suppl 1):i29-i38.
Exposure of the fetal or neonatal non-human primate (NHP) brain to isoflurane or ketamine for 5 h causes widespread apoptotic degeneration of neurones, and exposure to isoflurane also causes apoptotic degeneration of oligodendrocytes (OLs). The present study explored the apoptogenic potential of propofol in the fetal and neonatal NHP brain.
Fetal rhesus macaques at gestational age 120 days were exposed in utero, or postnatal day 6 rhesus neonates were exposed directly for 5 h to propofol anaesthesia (n=4 fetuses; and n=4 neonates) or to no anaesthesia (n=4 fetuses; n=5 neonates), and the brains were systematically evaluated 3 h later for evidence of apoptotic degeneration of neurones or glia.
Exposure of fetal or neonatal NHP brain to propofol caused a significant increase in apoptosis of neurones, and of OLs at a stage when OLs were just beginning to myelinate axons. Apoptotic degeneration affected similar brain regions but to a lesser extent than we previously described after isoflurane. The number of OLs affected by propofol was approximately equal to the number of neurones affected at both developmental ages. In the fetus, neuroapoptosis affected particularly subcortical and caudal regions, while in the neonate injury involved neocortical regions in a distinct laminar pattern and caudal brain regions were less affected.
Propofol anaesthesia for 5 h caused death of neurones and OLs in both the fetal and neonatal NHP brain. OLs become vulnerable to the apoptogenic action of propofol when they are beginning to achieve myelination competence.
PMCID: PMC3667347  PMID: 23722059
anaesthetics i.v., propofol; developing brain; neurones; non-human primates; oligodendroglia; toxicity
8.  Distinct long-term neurocognitive outcomes after equipotent sevoflurane or isoflurane anaesthesia in immature rats 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(Suppl 1):i39-i46.
Many anaesthetics when given to young animals cause cell death and learning deficits that persist until much later in life. Recent attempts to compare the relative safety or toxicity between different agents have not adequately controlled for the relative dose of anaesthetic given, thereby making direct comparisons difficult.
Isoflurane or sevoflurane were given at 1 minimum alveolar concentration (MAC) for 4 h to postnatal day 7 (P7) rat pups. Beginning at P75 these animals underwent fear conditioning and at P83 Morris water maze testing to assess working memory, short-term memory and early long-term memory using delays of 1 min, 1 h, and 4 h.
No difference between groups was seen in fear conditioning experiments. Morris water maze learning was equivalent between groups, and no difference was seen in working memory. Sevoflurane-treated animals had a deficit in early long-term memory, and isoflurane-treated animals had a deficit in both short-term and early long-term memory.
Both isoflurane and sevoflurane delivered at 1 MAC for 4 h to immature rats caused a deficit in long-term memory. Isoflurane also caused a deficit in short-term memory. Isoflurane might be more detrimental than sevoflurane in very young animals.
PMCID: PMC3695640  PMID: 23592692
animals; isoflurane toxicity; memory drug effects; newborn; sevoflurane toxicity
9.  Potentiation of GABAA receptor activity by volatile anaesthetics is reduced by α5GABAA receptor-preferring inverse agonists 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(Suppl 1):i73-i81.
Animal studies have shown that memory deficits in the early post-anaesthetic period can be prevented by pre-treatment with an inverse agonist that preferentially inhibits α5 subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid type A (α5GABAA) receptors. The goal of this in vitro study was to determine whether inverse agonists that inhibit α5GABAA receptors reduce anaesthetic potentiation of GABAA receptor activity.
Cultures of hippocampal neurones were prepared from Swiss white mice, wild-type mice (genetic background C57BL/6J and Sv129Ev) and α5GABAA receptor null mutant (Gabra5−/−) mice. Whole-cell voltage clamp techniques were used to study the effects of the α5GABAA receptor-preferring inverse agonists L-655,708 and MRK-016 on anaesthetic potentiation of GABA-evoked currents.
L-655,708 (50 nM) reduced sevoflurane potentiation of GABA-evoked current in wild-type neurones but not Gabra5−/− neurones, and produced a rightward shift in the sevoflurane concentration–response plot [sevoflurane EC50: 1.9 (0.1) mM; sevoflurane+L-655,708 EC50: 2.4 (0.2) mM, P<0.05]. Similarly, L-655,708 (50 nM) reduced isoflurane potentiation of GABA-evoked current [isoflurane: 4.0 (0.6) pA pF−1; isoflurane+L-655,708: 3.1 (0.5) pA pF−1, P<0.01]. MRK-016 also reduced sevoflurane and isoflurane enhancement of GABA-evoked current [sevoflurane: 1.5 (0.1) pA pF−1; sevoflurane+MRK-016 (10 nM): 1.2 (0.1) pA pF−1, P<0.05; isoflurane: 3.5 (0.3) pA pF−1; isoflurane+MRK-016 (1 nM): 2.9 (0.2) pA pF−1, P<0.05].
L-655,708 and MRK-016 reduced the potentiation by inhaled anaesthetics of GABAA receptor activated by a low concentration of GABA. Future studies are required to determine whether this effect contributes to the memory preserving properties of inverse agonists after anaesthesia.
PMCID: PMC3732063  PMID: 23535829
anaesthetics volatile, sevoflurane, isoflurane; brain, GABA; electrophysiology
10.  Mitochondrial protectant pramipexole prevents sex-specific long-term cognitive impairment from early anaesthesia exposure in rats  
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(Suppl 1):i47-i52.
Exposure to general anaesthesia during critical stages of brain development results in long-lasting cognitive impairment. Co-administration of protective agents could minimize the detrimental effects of anaesthesia. Co-administration of R(+)pramipexole (PPX), a synthetic aminobenzothiazol derivative that restores mitochondrial integrity, prevents anaesthesia-induced mitochondrial and neuronal damage and prevents early development of cognitive impairment. Here, we determine the protective effects of PPX into late adulthood in male and female rats.
Postnatal day 7 rats of both sexes were exposed to mock anaesthesia or combined midazolam, nitrous oxide, and isoflurane anaesthesia for 6 h with or without PPX. Cognitive abilities were assessed between 5 and 7 months of age using Morris water maze spatial navigation tasks.
Examination of spatial reference memory revealed that female, but not male, neonatal rats exposed to anaesthesia showed slowing of acquisition rates, which was significantly improved with PPX treatment. Examination of memory retention revealed that both male and female anaesthesia-treated rats have impaired memory retention performance compared with sham controls. Co-treatment with PPX resulted in improvement in memory retention in both sexes.
PPX provides long-lasting protection against cognitive impairment known to occur when very young animals are exposed to anaesthesia during the peak of brain development. Anaesthesia-induced cognitive impairment appears to be sex-specific with females being more vulnerable than males, suggesting that they could benefit more from early prevention.
PMCID: PMC3732064  PMID: 23616588
anaesthetics volatile, isoflurane; anaesthetics gases, nitrous oxide; memory; neonates; oxygen, toxicity; recovery, cognitive
11.  Reply from the authors 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2014;112(6):1121-1123.
PMCID: PMC4020385  PMID: 24829427
12.  Inflammatory response, immunosuppression, and cancer recurrence after perioperative blood transfusions 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(5):690-701.
Debate on appropriate triggers for transfusion of allogeneic blood products and their effects on short- and long-term survival in surgical and critically ill patients continue with no definitive evidence or decisive resolution. Although transfusion-related immune modulation (TRIM) is well established, its influence on immune competence in the recipient and its effects on cancer recurrence after a curative resection remains controversial. An association between perioperative transfusion of allogeneic blood products and risk for recurrence has been shown in colorectal cancer in randomized trials; whether the same is true for other types of cancer remains to be determined. This article focuses on the laboratory, animal, and clinical evidence to date on the mechanistic understanding of inflammatory and immune-modulatory effects of blood products and their significance for recurrence in the cancer surgical patient.
PMCID: PMC3630286  PMID: 23599512
cancer; transfusion 
13.  Population pharmacokinetics of epsilon-aminocaproic acid in infants undergoing craniofacial reconstruction surgery 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(5):788-799.
Understanding the clinical pharmacology of the antifibrinolytic epsilon-aminocaproic acid (EACA) is necessary for rational drug administration in children. The aim of this study is to determine the pharmacokinetics (PKs) of EACA in infants aged 6–24 months undergoing craniofacial reconstruction surgery.
Cohorts of six infants were enrolled sequentially to one of the three escalating loading dose–continuous i.v. infusion (CIVI) regimens: 25 mg kg−1, 10 mg kg−1 h−1; 50 mg kg−1, 20 mg kg−1 h−1; 100 mg kg−1, 40 mg kg−1 h−1. Plasma EACA concentrations were determined using a validated high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry assay. A population non-linear mixed effects modelling approach was used to characterize EACA PKs.
Population PK parameters of EACA were estimated using a two-compartment disposition model with weight expressed as an allometric covariate and an age effect. The typical patient in this study had an age of 38.71 weeks and a weight of 8.82 kg. PK parameters for this typical patient were: pre-/postoperative plasma drug clearance of 32 ml min−1 (3.6 ml kg−1 min−1), inter-compartmental clearance of 42.4 ml min−1 (4.8 ml min−1 kg−1), central volume of distribution of 1.27 litre (0.14 litre kg−1), and peripheral volume of distribution of 2.53 litre (0.29 litre kg−1). Intra-operative clearance and central volume of distribution were 89% and 80% of the pre-/postoperative value, respectively.
EACA clearance increased with weight and age. The dependence of clearance on body weight supports weight-based dosing. Based on this study, a loading dose of 100 mg kg−1 followed by a CIVI of 40 mg kg−1 h−1 is appropriate to maintain target plasma EACA concentrations in children aged 6–24 months undergoing these procedures.
PMCID: PMC3695654  PMID: 23353035
aminocaproic acid; antifibrinolytic agents; craniofacial abnormalities; infants; paediatrics; pharmacology
14.  Presynaptic inhibition of the release of multiple major central nervous system neurotransmitter types by the inhaled anaesthetic isoflurane 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2012;110(4):592-599.
Presynaptic effects of general anaesthetics are not well characterized. We tested the hypothesis that isoflurane exhibits transmitter-specific effects on neurotransmitter release from neurochemically and functionally distinct isolated mammalian nerve terminals.
Nerve terminals from adult male rat brain were prelabelled with [3H]glutamate and [14C]GABA (cerebral cortex), [3H]norepinephrine (hippocampus), [14C]dopamine (striatum), or [3H]choline (precursor of [3H]acetylcholine; striatum). Release evoked by depolarizing pulses of 4-aminopyridine (4AP) or elevated KCl was quantified using a closed superfusion system.
Isoflurane at clinical concentrations (<0.7 mM; ∼2 times median anaesthetic concentration) inhibited Na+ channel-dependent 4AP-evoked release of the five neurotransmitters tested in a concentration-dependent manner. Isoflurane was a more potent inhibitor [expressed as IC50 (sem)] of glutamate release [0.37 (0.03) mM; P<0.05] compared with the release of GABA [0.52 (0.03) mM], norepinephrine [0.48 (0.03) mM], dopamine [0.48 (0.03) mM], or acetylcholine [0.49 (0.02) mM]. Inhibition of Na+ channel-independent release evoked by elevated K+ was not significant at clinical concentrations of isoflurane, with the exception of dopamine release [IC50=0.59 (0.03) mM].
Isoflurane inhibited the release of the major central nervous system neurotransmitters with selectivity for glutamate release, consistent with both widespread inhibition and nerve terminal-specific presynaptic effects. Glutamate release was most sensitive to inhibition compared with GABA, acetylcholine, dopamine, and norepinephrine release due to presynaptic specializations in ion channel expression, regulation, and/or coupling to exocytosis. Reductions in neurotransmitter release by volatile anaesthetics could contribute to altered synaptic transmission, leading to therapeutic and toxic effects involving all major neurotransmitter systems.
PMCID: PMC3600942  PMID: 23213036
acetylcholine; γ-aminobutyric acid; anaesthetics; dopamine; exocytosis; glutamate; Na+ channels; nerve terminal; neurotransmitter release; norepinephrine
15.  Falls and major orthopaedic surgery with peripheral nerve blockade: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(4):518-528.
The objective of this systematic review with meta-analysis was to determine the risk for falls after major orthopaedic surgery with peripheral nerve blockade. Electronic databases from inception through January 2012 were searched. Eligible studies evaluated falls after peripheral nerve blockade in adult patients undergoing major lower extremity orthopaedic surgery. Independent reviewers working in duplicate extracted study characteristics, validity, and outcomes data. The Peto odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated from each study that compared continuous lumbar plexus blockade with non-continuous blockade or no blockade using a fixed effects model. Ten studies (4014 patients) evaluated the number of falls as an outcome. Five studies did not contain comparison groups. The meta-analysis of five studies [four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and one cohort] compared continuous lumbar plexus blockade (631 patients) with non-continuous blockade or no blockade (964 patients). Fourteen falls occurred in the continuous lumbar plexus block group when compared with five falls within the non-continuous block or no block group (attributable risk 1.7%; number needed to harm 59). Continuous lumbar plexus blockade was associated with a statistically significant increase in the risk for falls [Peto OR 3.85; 95% CI (1.52, 9.72); P=0.005; I2=0%]. Evidence was low (cohort) to high (RCTs) quality. Continuous lumbar plexus blockade in adult patients undergoing major lower extremity orthopaedic surgery increases the risk for postoperative falls compared with non-continuous blockade or no blockade. However, attributable risk was not outside the expected probability of postoperative falls after orthopaedic surgery.
PMCID: PMC3600943  PMID: 23440367
accidental falls; anaesthesia, conduction; arthroplasty, replacement, hip; arthroplasty, replacement, knee; muscle weakness; nerve block
16.  Effect of supervised aerobic exercise rehabilitation on physical fitness and quality-of-life in survivors of critical illness: an exploratory minimized controlled trial (PIX study) 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2014;113(1):130-137.
Evidence is limited for the effectiveness of interventions for survivors of critical illness after hospital discharge. We explored the effect of an 8-week hospital-based exercise-training programme on physical fitness and quality-of-life.
In a parallel-group minimized controlled trial, patients were recruited before hospital discharge or in the intensive care follow-up clinic and enrolled 8–16 weeks after discharge. Each week, the intervention comprised two sessions of physiotherapist-led cycle ergometer exercise (30 min, moderate intensity) plus one equivalent unsupervised exercise session. The control group received usual care. The primary outcomes were the anaerobic threshold (in ml O2 kg−1 min−1) and physical function and mental health (SF-36 questionnaire v.2), measured at Weeks 9 (primary time point) and 26. Outcome assessors were blinded to group assignment.
Thirty patients were allocated to the control and 29 to the intervention. For the anaerobic threshold outcome at Week 9, data were available for 17 control vs 13 intervention participants. There was a small benefit (vs control) for the anaerobic threshold of 1.8 (95% confidence interval, 0.4–3.2) ml O2 kg−1 min−1. This advantage was not sustained at Week 26. There was evidence for a possible beneficial effect of the intervention on self-reported physical function at Week 9 (3.4; −1.4 to 8.2 units) and on mental health at Week 26 (4.4; −2.4 to 11.2 units). These potential benefits should be examined robustly in any subsequent definitive trial.
The intervention appeared to accelerate the natural recovery process and seems feasible, but the fitness benefit was only short term.
Clinical trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN65176374 (
PMCID: PMC4062299  PMID: 24607602
anaerobic threshold; cardiopulmonary exercise test; rehabilitation, exercise therapy
17.  Impact of perioperative dexamethasone on postoperative analgesia and side-effects: systematic review and meta-analysis 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2012;110(2):191-200.
The analgesic efficacy and adverse effects of a single perioperative dose of dexamethasone are unclear. We performed a systematic review to evaluate the impact of a single i.v. dose of dexamethasone on postoperative pain and explore adverse events associated with this treatment.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Register were searched for randomized, controlled studies that compared dexamethasone vs placebo or an antiemetic in adult patients undergoing general anaesthesia and reported pain outcomes.
Forty-five studies involving 5796 patients receiving dexamethasone 1.25–20 mg were included. Patients receiving dexamethasone had lower pain scores at 2 h {mean difference (MD) −0.49 [95% confidence interval (CI): −0.83, −0.15]} and 24 h [MD −0.48 (95% CI: −0.62, −0.35)] after surgery. Dexamethasone-treated patients used less opioids at 2 h [MD −0.87 mg morphine equivalents (95% CI: −1.40 to −0.33)] and 24 h [MD −2.33 mg morphine equivalents (95% CI: −4.39, −0.26)], required less rescue analgesia for intolerable pain [relative risk 0.80 (95% CI: 0.69, 0.93)], had longer time to first dose of analgesic [MD 12.06 min (95% CI: 0.80, 23.32)], and shorter stays in the post-anaesthesia care unit [MD −5.32 min (95% CI: −10.49 to −0.15)]. There was no dose–response with regard to the opioid-sparing effect. There was no increase in infection or delayed wound healing with dexamethasone, but blood glucose levels were higher at 24 h [MD 0.39 mmol litre−1 (95% CI: 0.04, 0.74)].
A single i.v. perioperative dose of dexamethasone had small but statistically significant analgesic benefits.
PMCID: PMC3544008  PMID: 23220857
analgesics, opioid; dexamethasone; glucocorticoids; hyperglycaemia; pain, postoperative; surgical wound infection
18.  Standardized deceased donor kidney donation rates in the UK reveal marked regional variation and highlight the potential for increasing kidney donation: a prospective cohort study† 
The UK has implemented a national strategy for organ donation that includes a centrally coordinated network of specialist nurses in organ donation embedded in all intensive care units and a national organ retrieval service for deceased organ donors. We aimed to determine whether despite the national approach to donation there is significant regional variation in deceased donor kidney donation rates.
The UK prospective audit of deaths in critical care was analysed for a cohort of patients who died in critical care between April 2010 and December 2011. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify the factors associated with kidney donation. The logistic regression model was then used to produce risk-adjusted funnel plots describing the regional variation in donation rates.
Of the 27 482 patients who died in a critical care setting, 1528 (5.5%) became kidney donors. Factors found to influence donation rates significantly were: type of critical care [e.g. neurointensive vs general intensive care: OR 1.53, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.34–1.75, P<0.0001], patient ethnicity (e.g. ‘Asian’ vs ‘white’: OR 0.17, 95% CI 0.11–0.26, P<0.0001), age (e.g. age >69 vs age 18–39 yr: OR 0.2, 0.15–0.25, P<0.0001), and cause of death [e.g. ‘other’ (excluding ‘stroke’ and ‘trauma’) vs ‘trauma’: OR 0.04, 95% CI 0.03–0.05, P<0.0001]. Despite correction for these variables, kidney donation rates for the 20 UK kidney donor regions showed marked variation. The overall standardized donation rate ranged from 3.2 to 7.5%. Four regions had donation rates of >2 standard deviations (sd) from the mean (two below and two above). Regional variation was most marked for donation after circulatory death (DCD) kidney donors with 9 of the 20 regions demonstrating donation rates of >2 sd from the mean (5 below and 4 above).
The marked regional variation in kidney donation rates observed in this cohort after adjustment for factors strongly associated with donation rates suggests that there is considerable scope for further increasing kidney donation rates in the UK, particularly DCD.
PMCID: PMC4062298  PMID: 24335581
donors, organ transplantation; kidney, transplantation; model, statistical; surgery, transplantation; transplantation, kidney
19.  Perioperative central nervous system injury in neonates 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2012;109(Suppl 1):i60-i67.
Anaesthetic-induced developmental neurotoxicity (AIDN) has been clearly established in laboratory animal models. The possibility of neurotoxicity during uneventful anaesthetic procedures in human neonates or infants has led to serious questions about the safety of paediatric anaesthesia. However, the applicability of animal data to clinical anaesthesia practice remains uncertain. The spectre of cerebral injury due to cerebral hypoperfusion, metabolic derangements, coexisting disease, and surgery itself further muddles the picture. Given the potential magnitude of the public health importance of this issue, the clinician should be cognisant of the literature and ongoing investigations on AIDN, and raise awareness of the risks of both surgery and anaesthesia.
PMCID: PMC3521998  PMID: 23242752
anaesthesia, paediatric; brain injury; paediatric; surgery
20.  Predictive performance of the Domino, Hijazi, and Clements models during low-dose target-controlled ketamine infusions in healthy volunteers 
British journal of anaesthesia  2007;98(5):10.1093/bja/aem063.
Healthy volunteers received low-dose target-controlled infusions (TCI) of ketamine controlled by the Domino model while cognitive function tests and functional neuroimaging were performed. The aim of the current study was to assess the predictive performance of the Domino model during these studies, and compare it with that of three other ketamine models.
Fifty-eight volunteers received ketamine administered by a TCI device on one or more occasions at target concentrations of either 50, 100, or 200 ng ml−1. At each target concentration, two or three venous blood samples were withdrawn during infusion, with a further sample after the infusion ended. Ketamine assays were performed by gas chromatography. The plasma concentration time courses predicted by the Hijazi, Clements 125, and Clements 250 models were calculated retrospectively, and the predictive performance of each of the models was assessed using Varvel methodology.
For the Domino model, bias, inaccuracy, wobble, and divergence were −2.7%, 33.9%, 24.2%, and 0.1463 % h−1, respectively. There was a systematic increase in performance error over time. The Clements 250 model performed best by all criteria, whereas the Hijazi model performed least well by all criteria except for bias.
Performance of the Domino model during control of low-dose ketamine infusions was sub-optimal. The Clements 250 model may be a better model for controlling low-dose TCI ketamine administration
PMCID: PMC3838936  PMID: 17389691
anaesthetics; i.v.; ketamine; pharmacokinetics
21.  Increased electroencephalographic gamma activity reveals awakening from isoflurane anaesthesia in rats 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2012;109(5):782-789.
Animal studies often require reliable measures for anaesthetic drug effects. Lately, EEG-based depth of anaesthesia estimation has been widely applied to rat models. This study investigated the reliability of different EEG spectral properties in revealing awakening from isoflurane anaesthesia in rats.
Adult Wistar rats with previously implanted frontal epidural electrodes were anaesthetized using isoflurane. The anaesthesia was slowly lightened until awakening, as observed by the first spontaneous movement, after which anaesthesia was induced again by increasing the isoflurane concentration. EEG was recorded during the recovery and induction periods, and the spectrograms and 23 quantitative spectral parameters used in the depth of anaesthesia estimation were calculated from the signals.
The awakening was accompanied by a decrease in EEG activity at frequencies below 25 Hz, while the activity at higher frequencies (25–150 Hz) was increased. Whereas the behaviour of parameters used to measure activity in the lower frequencies was subject to variability between animals, the increase in higher frequency activity was more consistent, resulting in a statistically significant change in the relative gamma power parameters at the moment of awakening.
The increase in frontal relative gamma activity, especially in the 50–150 Hz frequency band, seems to be the most reliable EEG indicator for the awakening of a rat from isoflurane anaesthesia. A number of other spectral measures can also be used to detect this event. However, the role of gamma frequencies in the performance of these parameters is crucial.
PMCID: PMC3470445  PMID: 22907339
anaesthesia, depth; anaesthetics volatile, isoflurane; monitoring, depth of anaesthesia; monitoring, electroencephalography; rat
22.  Activation of K2P channel–TREK1 mediates the neuroprotection induced by sevoflurane preconditioning 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;113(1):157-167.
Preconditioning with volatile anaesthetic agents induces tolerance to focal cerebral ischaemia, although the underlying mechanisms have not been clearly defined. The present study analyses whether TREK-1, a two-pore domain K+ channel and target for volatile anaesthetics, plays a role in mediating neuroprotection by sevoflurane.
Differentiated SH-SY5Y cells were preconditioning with sevoflurane and challenged by oxygen–glucose deprivation (OGD). Cell viability and expression of caspase-3 and TREK-1 were evaluated. Rats that were preconditioned with sevoflurane were subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO), and the expression of TREK-1 protein and mRNA was analysed. Neurological scores were evaluated and infarction volume was examined.
Sevoflurane preconditioning reduced cell death in differentiated SH-SY5Y cells challenged by OGD. Sevoflurane preconditioning reduced infarct volume and improved neurological outcome in rats subjected to MCAO. Sevoflurane preconditioning increased levels of TREK-1 mRNA and protein. Knockdown of TREK-1 significantly attenuated sevoflurane preconditioning-induced neuroprotective effects in vitro and in vivo.
Sevoflurane preconditioning-induced neuroprotective effects against transient cerebral ischaemic injuries involve TREK-1 channels. These results suggest a novel mechanism for sevoflurane preconditioning-induced tolerance to focal cerebral ischaemia.
PMCID: PMC4062297  PMID: 24154701
anaesthetics volatile, sevoflurane; brain, ischaemia; neuroprotection; preconditioning; TREK-1
23.  Caveolae and propofol effects on airway smooth muscle 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2012;109(3):444-453.
The i.v. anaesthetic propofol produces bronchodilatation. Airway relaxation involves reduced intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) in airway smooth muscle (ASM) and lipid rafts (caveolae), and constitutional caveolin proteins regulate [Ca2+]i. We postulated that propofol-induced bronchodilatation involves caveolar disruption.
Caveolar fractions of human ASM cells were tested for propofol content. [Ca2+]i responses of ASM cells loaded with fura-2 were performed in the presence of 10 µM histamine with and without clinically relevant concentrations of propofol (10 and 30 μM and intralipid control). Effects on sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ release were evaluated in zero extracellular Ca2+ using the blockers Xestospongin C and ryanodine. Store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) after SR depletion was evaluated using established techniques. The role of caveolin-1 in the effect of propofol was tested using small interference RNA (siRNA) suppression. Changes in intracellular signalling cascades relevant to [Ca2+]i and force regulation were also evaluated.
Propofol was present in ASM caveolar fractions in substantial concentrations. Exposure to 10 or 30 µM propofol form decreased [Ca2+]i peak (but not plateau) responses to histamine by ∼40%, an effect persistent in zero extracellular Ca2+. Propofol effects were absent in caveolin-1 siRNA-transfected cells. Inhibition of ryanodine receptors prevented propofol effects on [Ca2+]i, while propofol blunted [Ca2+]i responses to caffeine. Propofol reduced SOCE, an effect also prevented by caveolin-1 siRNA. Propofol effects were associated with decreased caveolin-1 expression and extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation.
These novel data suggest a role for caveolae (specifically caveolin-1) in propofol-induced bronchodilatation. Due to its lipid nature, propofol may transiently disrupt caveolar regulation, thus altering ASM [Ca2+]i.
PMCID: PMC3415286  PMID: 22542538
bronchial smooth muscle; bronchodilatation; calcium regulation; caveolin; intravenous anaesthetic; signalling
24.  Risks for impaired cerebral autoregulation during cardiopulmonary bypass and postoperative stroke 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2012;109(3):391-398.
Impaired cerebral autoregulation may predispose patients to cerebral hypoperfusion during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). The purpose of this study was to identify risk factors for impaired autoregulation during coronary artery bypass graft, valve surgery with CPB, or both and to evaluate whether near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) autoregulation monitoring could be used to identify this condition.
Two hundred and thirty-four patients were monitored with transcranial Doppler and NIRS. A continuous, moving Pearson's correlation coefficient was calculated between mean arterial pressure (MAP) and cerebral blood flow (CBF) velocity, and between MAP and NIRS data, to generate the mean velocity index (Mx) and cerebral oximetry index (COx), respectively. Functional autoregulation is indicated by an Mx and COx that approach zero (no correlation between CBF and MAP); impaired autoregulation is indicated by an Mx and COx approaching 1. Impaired autoregulation was defined as an Mx ≥0.40 at all MAPs during CPB.
Twenty per cent of patients demonstrated impaired autoregulation during CPB. Based on multivariate logistic regression analysis, time-averaged COx during CPB, male gender, , CBF velocity, and preoperative aspirin use were independently associated with impaired CBF autoregulation. Perioperative stroke occurred in six of 47 (12.8%) patients with impaired autoregulation compared with five of 187 (2.7%) patients with preserved autoregulation (P=0.011).
Impaired CBF autoregulation occurs in 20% of patients during CPB. Patients with impaired autoregulation are more likely than those with functional autoregulation to have perioperative stroke. Non-invasive monitoring autoregulation may provide an accurate means to predict impaired autoregulation.
Clinical trials registration. (NCT00769691).
PMCID: PMC3415287  PMID: 22661748
cardiac surgery; cardiopulmonary bypass; cerebral autoregulation; stroke
25.  Single sevoflurane exposure decreases neuronal nitric oxide synthase levels in the hippocampus of developing rats 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2012;109(2):225-233.
The use of general anaesthetics in young children and infants has raised concerns regarding the adverse effects of these drugs on brain development. Sevoflurane might have harmful effects on the developing brain; however, these effects have not been well investigated.
Postnatal day 7 (P7) Sprague–Dawley rats were continuously exposed to 2.3% sevoflurane for 6 h. We used the Fox battery test and Morris water maze (MWM) to examine subsequent neurobehavioural performance. Cleaved caspase-3 and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) were quantified by immunoblotting, and the Nissl staining was used to observe the histopathological changes in the hippocampus.
A single 6 h sevoflurane exposure at P7 rats resulted in increased cleaved caspase-3 expression and decreased nNOS levels in the hippocampus, and induced the loss of pyramidal neurones in the CA1 and CA3 subfields of the hippocampus at P7–8. These changes were accompanied by temporal retardation of sensorimotor reflexes. However, neither the Fox battery test at P1–21 nor the MWM test at P28–32 showed differences between the air- and sevoflurane-treated groups.
Although early exposure to sevoflurane increases activated caspase-3 expression and neuronal loss and decreases nNOS in the neonatal hippocampus, it does not affect subsequent neurobehavioural performances in juvenile rats.
PMCID: PMC3393078  PMID: 22535834
anaesthetic, sevoflurane; caspase 3; hippocampus; memory; neuronal nitric oxide synthase; sevoflurane

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