Anesthetic-related neurotoxicity in young children: An update

Stephen Gleich, Michael Nemergut, Randall Flick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review examines the recent data, animal and human, reporting an association between early anesthetic exposure, neuronal cell death, and adverse neurocognitive and behavioral outcomes. RECENT FINDINGS: Numerous studies have demonstrated that essentially all commonly used anesthetics, when used alone or in combination, enhance neuroapoptosis in developing rodent brains with resultant impairment in learning, memory, and cognition. Recently, these data have been extended to include studies of nonhuman primates also demonstrating neuroapoptosis and long-term cognitive deficits in response to anesthetic exposure. Of additional concern are several retrospective cohort studies of humans that suggest an association between early anesthetic exposure and neurocognitive deficits. Prospective data in humans are lacking and, as such, a causal relationship between anesthetic exposure and developmental outcome remains speculative. SUMMARY: Although the evidence from nonhuman primates and humans is overtly concerning, it lacks clinical verification. There are, at present, no data that would dictate a change in clinical practice in the anesthetic management of infants and children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-347
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Anaesthesiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Anesthetics
  • Neuroapoptosis
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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