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Summary

This study tested the hypothesis that propofol is associated with a higher hepatic blood flow in humans compared with desflurane. Using a cross over study design, 10 patients received first propofol and then desflurane, and a further 10 patients received desflurane and then propofol. Blood flow index in the right and middle hepatic veins, stroke volume index and cardiac index were assessed by transoesophageal echocardiography. Mean arterial blood pressure, stroke volume index and cardiac index were the same in both groups. Propofol was associated with significantly greater blood flow index in the right hepatic vein (median (IQR [range]) 199 (146–237 [66–388]) vs. 149 (112–189 [42–309]) ml.min−1.m−2; p = 0.005) and middle hepatic vein (150 (122–191 [57–341]) vs. 125 (92–149 [47–362]) ml.min−1.m−2; p < 0.001) compared with desflurane. In routine clinical conditions, propofol anaesthesia was associated with significantly greater hepatic blood flow than desflurane anaesthesia.