Adverse respiratory events with sevoflurane compared with desflurane in ambulatory surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Wei Shan Chen, Min Hsien Chiang, Kuo Chuan Hung, Kai Lieh Lin, Chih Hsien Wang, Yan Yuen Poon, Sheng Dean Luo, Shao Chun Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND An increasing number of studies have concluded that the number of adverse events in the upper airway caused by desflurane does not differ significantly from the number of adverse events caused by sevoflurane. The advantages of desflurane in ambulatory surgery should be reassessed. OBJECTIVES The aim of this study was to compare adverse respiratory events and recovery outcomes in patients undergoing desflurane or sevoflurane-based anaesthesia in ambulatory surgery. DESIGN A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs). DATA SOURCES A systematic search for eligible RCTs in PubMed, Medline, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, ScienceDirect and Embase published up to June 2019. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA RCTs investigating the occurrence of adverse respiratory events, including airway irritation, stridor, coughing, respiratory distress and laryngospasm, emergence agitation, postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), time to eye opening and time to discharge from the operation room after desflurane or sevoflurane-based anaesthesia. RESULTS Thirteen trials were included and analysed. A total of 634 patients were included in the desflurane group, and 633 patients in the sevoflurane group. The occurrence of respiratory complications was significantly higher with desflurane-based anaesthesia than with sevoflurane-based anaesthesia (Total n = 673, 20.0 vs. 12.8%, relative risk (RR) 1.59 (95% CI 1.15 to 2.20)) with low heterogeneity (I2 = 20%). There was no difference in the occurrence of emergence agitation (Total n = 626, 29.1 vs. 27.2%, RR 1.05 (95% CI 0.84 to 1.30)) or the incidence of PONV between the desflurane and sevoflurane groups (Total n = 989, 19.0 vs. 21.0%, RR 0.95 (95% CI 0.71 to 1.26)). Time to eye opening was significantly faster with desflurane than that with sevoflurane (Total n = 1072, mean difference = -3.32 min (95% CI -4.02 to -2.61)) with a substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 72.6%). There was no significant difference in the time to discharge from the operation room between the two groups (Total n = 1056, mean difference = -0.45 min (95% CI -5.89 to 4.99)). CONCLUSION Despite recent reports that there is no significant difference in adverse respiratory events between desflurane and sevoflurane, a pooled analysis revealed that desflurane resulted in a higher rate than sevoflurane. Therefore, the consequences of desflurane should not be neglected and its airway irritant properties should be taken into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1104
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Anaesthesiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 12 2020

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© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.


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