To evaluate the effects of high thoracic epidural anesthesia (TEA) on global and regional myocardial function and on perioperative coronary risk in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting.
Design, Setting, and Patients
Prospective and randomized clinical trial blinded for the primary outcome measure of 73 patients scheduled for coronary artery bypass grafting who had a left ventricular ejection fraction of 50% or more conducted from February 1, 2000, through August 31, 2000, at University Hospital, Münster, Germany.
Of 73 randomized patients, 37 were control subjects (who received general anesthesia only) and 36 were in the group who received general anesthesia and high TEA.
Main Outcome Measures
The primary outcome measure was regional left ventricular function after myocardial revascularization, assessed by transesophageal echocardiography. We further determined the plasma concentrations of cardiac troponin I and atrial and brain natriuretic peptides. Secondary outcome measures were postoperative complications recorded to 14 days and mortality recorded to 720 days.
High TEA was effective in all patients of this group, the somatosensory block extended from T1 through T7 vertebrae. Regional left ventricular function was significantly improved (mean [SD] global wall motion index, 0.74 [0.18] vs 0.38 [0.16]; P<.05), and cardiac troponin I concentrations were reduced by 72% (mean [SD], 5.7 [1.5] vs 1.6 [0.7] ng/mL, P<.05) in patients with high TEA. Natriuretic peptide concentrations peaked during reperfusion (atrial natriuretic peptide) and 24 hours after reperfusion (brain natriuretic peptide). High TEA reduced the mean (SD) peak concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide by 54% (211  vs 98  ng/mL, P = .03) and brain natriuretic peptide by 43% (189  vs 108  ng/mL, P = .01). One of 36 patients who received high TEA and 3 of 37 controls died.
Reversible cardiac sympathectomy by high TEA improves regional left ventricular function and reduces postoperative ischemia after coronary artery bypass grafting. These effects of high TEA may improve the long-term outcome after myocardial revascularization.