Myocardial Microvascular Responsiveness During Acute Cardiac Sympathectomy Induced by Thoracic Epidural Anesthesia

Carolien S E Bulte, Christa Boer, Koen J Hartemink, Otto Kamp, Martijn W Heymans, Stephen A Loer, Stefano F de Marchi, Rolf Vogel, R Arthur Bouwman

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of acute cardiac sympathectomy by thoracic epidural anesthesia on myocardial blood flow and microvascular function.

DESIGN: A prospective observational study.

SETTING: The study was conducted in a tertiary teaching hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: Ten patients with a mean age of 48 years (range 22-63 years) scheduled for thoracic surgery.

INTERVENTIONS: Myocardial contrast echocardiography was used to study myocardial blood flow and microvascular responsiveness at rest, during adenosine-induced hyperemia, and after sympathetic stimulation by the cold pressor test. Repeated measurements were performed without and with thoracic epidural anesthesia.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: An increased myocardial blood volume was observed with thoracic epidural anesthesia compared to baseline (from 0.08±0.02 to 0.10±0.03 mL/mL; p = 0.02). No difference existed in resting myocardial blood flow between baseline conditions and epidural anesthesia (0.85±0.24 v 1.03±0.27 mL/min/g, respectively). Hyperemia during thoracic epidural anesthesia increased myocardial blood flow to 4.31±1.07 mL/min/g (p = 0.0008 v baseline) and blood volume to 0.17±0.04 mL/mL (p = 0.005 baseline). After sympathetic stimulation, no difference in myocardial blood flow parameters was observed CONCLUSIONS: Acute cardiac sympathectomy by thoracic epidural anesthesia increased the blood volume in the myocardial capillary system. Also, thoracic epidural anesthesia increased hyperemic myocardial blood flow, indicating augmented endothelial-independent vasodilator capacity of the myocardium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-141
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of cardiothoracic and vascular anesthesia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • Journal Article

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