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Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Volume 1, Issue 2, Pages 98-103
Clinical Study

Effect of Isoflurane on Neutrophil Phagocytic Function During Pregnancy

1Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA
2Department of Anesthesiology and Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA
3Box 100294, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville 32610-0294, FL, USA

Received 29 April 1993; Accepted 7 June 1993

Copyright © 1993 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective: General anesthesia has been considered an independent risk factor for postcesarean infection, but the mechanism for this association has not been delineated. The purpose of this prospective investigation was to determine if phagocytic response of neutrophils was impaired by in vitro exposure to isoflurane, a commonly used anesthetic.

Methods: Twelve milliliter venous blood samples were withdrawn from 18 term patients during labor. Neutrophils were separated by Ficoll gradient centrifugation. Aliquots of 2 × 106 neutrophils/ml were exposed to anesthesia using an airtight modular incubator chamber through which a 0.5% isoflurane:50% N2O + 50% O2 mixture flowed at a rate of 4 l/min for 90 min at 37℃. Neutrophils were assayed for phagocytosis by incubation with Escherichia coli conjugated with fluorescein isothiocyanate for 30 min at 37℃. Phagocytosis was assessed by flow cytometry. Neutrophils from the same patient that were not exposed to anesthesia served as controls.

Results: The mean percentage of phagocytizing neutrophils in the isoflurane-treated group was 82.8 ± 24 compared to 83.5 ± 22 in the control group. The difference between the two groups was not significant.

Conclusions: In vitro exposure to the general anesthetic isoflurane for 90 min does not significantly alter the phagocytic capacity of neutrophils.