Background and objective: Hitherto, neither desflurane nor sevoflurane, with similar physicochemical properties, have been compared with regard to their effects on the central nervous system. We compared the effects of desflurane and sevoflurane on electrical cortical activity and sensory transmission at two anaesthetic concentrations in patients undergoing hysterectomy.
Methods: The 1 and 2 MAC in nitrous oxide/oxygen (55%/45%) of desflurane or sevoflurane were administered while electroencephalographic power spectra and the somatosensory-evoked potentials were measured and correlated with cardiovascular effects.
Results: Both volatile agents induced a concentration-related increase of power in the slow delta-band and a concomitant decrease of power in the fast beta-domain. There was a close correlation with regard to the decrease in beta-power and heart rate (r2 = 0.988) and systolic blood pressure (r2 = 0.952) following both agents. Desflurane and sevoflurane had little effect on the early N20-peak, but affected the late N100-peak. There was a concentration-related increase in latency and a depression of amplitude height. Changes were not significantly different between both agents.
Conclusions: Both desflurane and sevoflurane possess a similar profile with regard to their hypnotic effects and a similar outline in depressing propagation within the sensory nervous system. Cortical nervous effects are mirrored closely in heart rate and systolic blood pressure.