Case reports from as early as the 1970s have shown that intravenous injection of even a small dose of volatile anesthetics result in fatal lung injury. Direct contact between volatile anesthetics and pulmonary vasculature triggers chemical damage in the vessel walls. A wide variety of factors are involved in lung ischemia-reperfusion injury (LIRI), such as pulmonary endothelial cells, alveolar epithelial cells, alveolar macrophages, neutrophils, mast cells, platelets, proinflammatory cytokines, and surfactant. With a constellation of factors involved, the assessment of the protective effect of volatile anesthetics in LIRI is difficult. Multiple animal studies have reported that with regards to LIRI, sevoflurane demonstrates an anti-inflammatory effect in immunocompetent cells and an anti-apoptotic effect on lung tissue. Scattered studies have dismissed a protective effect of desflurane against LIRI. While a single-center randomized controlled trial (RCT) found that volatile anesthetics including desflurane demonstrated a lung-protective effect in thoracic surgery, a multicenter RCT did not demonstrate a lung-protective effect of desflurane. LIRI is common in lung transplantation. One study, although limited due to its small sample size, found that the use of volatile anesthetics in organ procurement surgery involving “death by neurologic criteria” donors did not improve lung graft survival. Future studies on the protective effect of volatile anesthetics against LIRI must examine not only the mechanism of the protective effect but also differences in the effects of different types of volatile anesthetics, their optimal dosage, and the appropriateness of their use in the event of marked alveolar capillary barrier damage.Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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