• Catecholamines;
  • endoscopic laparoscopy;
  • noradrenaline;
  • pneumoperitoneum;
  • sympathetic nervous system

Background: Insufflation of CO2 into the abdomen is used during all kinds of laparoscopic operations. The procedure elicits haemodynamic and hormonal responses. The reports on sympathetic responses to laparoscopic surgery have been conflicting. However, few studies have assessed sympathetic and haemodynamic responses to CO2 insufflation per se, eliminating possible effects of intubation, skin incision, surgical manipulation and positioning of the body. No studies have measured both venous and arterial plasma catecholamines, the latter being a more sensitive indicator of sympathetic activity. In the present study, we hypothesised an increased sympathetic activity during pneumoperitoneum and an association between haemodynamic and sympathetic responses.

Methods: Plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline from the radial artery and superior vena cava were measured immediately before and 10 min after abdominal insufflation of CO2 in 11 subjects. Haemodynamics were monitored invasively.

Results: During pneumoperitoneum arterial plasma noradrenaline increased from 155 (106, 209) pg/ml (median, lowest and highest quartile) to 283 (188, 378) pg/ml (P=0.003), while there were no changes in arterial plasma adrenaline. The calculated arterial-superior vena cava difference in plasma noradrenaline did not change, indicating no increased sympathetic activity in the drainage area of the superior vena cava. Heart rate and cardiac index were unchanged, while total peripheral resistance and mean arterial blood pressure increased (P=0.002). The changes in arterial plasma noradrenaline were closely related to the changes in total peripheral resistance (r=0.69, P=0.01).

Conclusions: Plasma noradrenaline increases during pneumoperitoneum and is associated with changes in total peripheral resistance. Plasma adrenaline is unchanged and there is no evidence of increased sympathetic outflow to the drainage area of the superior vena cava. Thus, the increase in plasma noradrenaline may be due to more local activation of the sympathetic nervous system, probably somewhere from the drainage area of the inferior vena cava.