BACKGROUND:Sevoflurane, like other halogenated anesthetics, has been shown to have a protective effect on the myocardium at risk after an ischemic injury. The current study tested the hypothesis that such beneficial effects, so far mainly seen in the laboratory, are reproducible in humans. METHODS:After institutional review board approval, 20 patients scheduled to undergo elective off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery were randomized to receive general anesthesia with either sevoflurane or propofol. Except for this, anesthetic and surgical management was the same in both groups. For assessing myocardial injury, troponin I and myocardial fraction of creatine kinase were determined during the first 24 postoperative hours. Systemic hemodynamic variables were measured before, during, and after completion of coronary artery bypass. RESULTS:Troponin I concentrations increased significantly more in propofol-anesthetized patients than in patients anesthetized with sevoflurane. CONCLUSION:Patients receiving sevoflurane for off-pump coronary artery surgery had less myocardial injury during the first 24 postoperative hours than patients receiving propofol. The results further support cardioprotective effects of sevoflurane.