Background: Hypotension and bradycardia are known side effects of general anesthesia, while little is known about further macro- and microhemodynamic changes during induction. Intriguing is furthermore, why some patients require no vasopressor medication to uphold mean arterial pressure, while others need vasopressor support.
Objective: Determination of macro- and microhemodynamic changes during induction of general anesthesia.
Methods: We enrolled 150 female adults scheduled for gynaecological surgery into this prospective observational, single-blinded trial. Besides routinely measuring heart rate (HR) and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), the non-invasive technique of thoracic electrical bioimpedance was applied to measure cardiac output (CO), cardiac index (CI), stroke volume (SV), stroke volume variability (SVV) and index of myocardial contractility (ICON) before induction of anesthesia, 7 times during induction, and, finally, after surgery in the recovery room. Changes in microcirculation were assessed using sidestream dark field imaging to establish the perfused boundary region (PBR), a validated gauge of glycocalyx health. Comparisons were made with Friedman’s or Wilcoxon test for paired data, and with Mann-Whitney-U test for unpaired data, with post-hoc corrections for multiple measurements by the Holm-Bonferroni method.
Results: 83 patients did not need vasopressor support, whereas 67 patients required therapy (norepinephrine, atropine or cafedrine/theodrenaline) to elevate MAP values to ≥70mmHg during induction, 54 of these receiving norepinephrine (NE) alone. Pre-interventional (basal) values of CO, CI, ICON, SV and SVV were all significantly lower in the group of patients later requiring NE (p < 0.04), whereas HR and MAP were identical for both groups. HR, MAP and CO decreased from baseline to 12 min after induction of general anesthesia in both the patients without and those with NE support. Heart rate decreased significantly by about 25% in both groups (-19 to -21 bpm). The median individual decrease of MAP amounted to -26.7% (19.7/33.3, p < 0.001) and -26.1% (11.6/33.2, p < 0.001), respectively, whereas for CO it was -40.7% (34.1/50.1, p < 0.001) and -43.5% (34.8/48.7). While these relative changes did not differ between the two groups, in absolute values there were significantly greater decreases in CO, CI, SV and ICON in the group requiring NE. Noteably, NE did not restore ICON or the other cardiac parameters to levels approaching those of the group without NE. PBR was measured in a total of 84 patients compiled from both groups, there being no intergroup differences. It increased 6.4% (p < 0.001) from pre-induction to the end of the operation, indicative of damage to microvascular glycocalyx.
Conclusion: Non-invasive determination of CO provides additional hemodynamic information during anesthesia, showing that induction results in a significant decrease not only of MAP but also of CO and other cardiac factors at all timepoints compared to baseline values. The decrease of CO was greater than that of MAP and, in contrast to MAP, did not respond to NE. There was also no sign of a positive inotropic effect of NE in this situation. Support of MAP by NE must consequently result from an increase in peripheral arterial resistance, posing a risk for oxygen supply to tissue. In addition, general anesthesia and the operative stimulus lead to an impairment of the microcirculation.