6 Scopus citations


Cognitive dysfunction after surgery under general anesthesia is a well-recognized clinical phenomenon in the elderly. Physiological effects of various anesthetic agents have been studied at length. Very little is known about potential effects of anesthesia on brain structure. In this study we used Diffusion Tensor Imaging to compare the white matter microstructure of healthy control subjects under sevoflurane anesthesia with their awake state. Fractional Anisotropy, a white mater integrity index, transiently decreases throughout the brain during sevoflurane anesthesia and then returns back to baseline. Other DTI metrics such as mean diffusivity, axial diffusivity and radial diffusivity were increased under sevoflurane anesthesia. Although DTI metrics are age dependent, the transient changes due to sevoflurane were independent of age and sex. Volumetric analysis shows various white matter volumes decreased whereas some gray matter volumes increased during sevoflurane anesthesia. These results suggest that sevoflurane anesthesia has a significant, but transient, effect on white matter microstructure. In spite of the transient effects of sevoflurane anesthesia there were no measurable effects on brain white matter as determined by the DTI metrics at 2 days and 7 days following anesthesia. The role of white matter in the loss of consciousness under anesthesia will need to be studied and MRI studies with subjects under anesthesia will need to take these results into account.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0247678
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3 March
StatePublished - Mar 2021


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