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Comparison of propofol and volatile agents for maintenance of anesthesia during elective craniotomy procedures: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Monday, April 7, 2014

Can J Anesth. 2014 Apr;61(4):347-56. 

Chui J, Mariappan R, Mehta J, Manninen P, Venkatraghavan L.



Both propofol and volatile anesthetics are commonly used for maintenance of anesthesia in patients undergoing neurosurgical procedures. The effects of these two classes of drugs on cerebral hemodynamics have been compared in many clinical trials The objectives of this review were to evaluate the cerebral hemodynamic effects, operative conditions, recovery profiles, postoperative complications, and neurological outcomes of propofol-based vs volatile-based anesthesia for craniotomy.


MEDLINE®, EMBASE™, Cochrane, and other relevant databases were searched for randomized controlled trials that compared propofol-maintained anesthesia with volatile-maintained anesthesia in adult patients undergoing elective craniotomy. The primary outcome measure was the intraoperative brain relaxation score. Secondary outcome measures included intraoperative cerebral hemodynamics (intracranial pressure [ICP], cerebral perfusion pressure [CPP]), cardiovascular changes, recovery profiles, postoperative complications, and clinical outcomes (neurological morbidity, mortality, quality of life). A meta-analysis was conducted using a random effects model to compare the outcomes of the two anesthetic techniques.


Fourteen studies (1,819 patients) met inclusion criteria and were analyzed. Brain relaxation scores were similar between the two groups after dural opening; however, ICP was lower (weighted mean difference of -5.2 mmHg; 95% confidence interval -6.81 to -3.6) and CPP was higher (weighted mean difference of 16.3 mmHg; 95% confidence interval 12.2 to 20.46) in patients receiving propofol-maintained anesthesia. Postoperative complications and recovery profiles were similar between the two groups, except for postoperative nausea and vomiting being less frequent withpropofol-maintained anesthesia. There were inadequate data to perform a meta-analysis on clinical outcome.


Propofol-maintained and volatile-maintained anesthesia were associated with similar brain relaxation scores, although mean ICP values were lower and CPP values higher with propofol-maintained anesthesia. There are inadequate data to compare clinically significant outcomes such as neurological morbidity or mortality.

See the full article online in PubMed