Epidural clonidine produces regional anesthesia as well as sedation and a decrease in anesthetic requirements. To assess these effects, the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded after epidural or intravenous (iv) injection of clonidine during enflurane/N2O anesthesia. Eighteen ASA physical status 1 women undergoing vaginal hysterectomy were allocated randomly to receive epidural clonidine (8 micrograms.kg-1 in 4 ml over 2 min) and iv saline (10 ml over 14 min); or epidural saline (4 ml over 2 min) and iv clonidine (8 micrograms.kg-1 in 10 ml over 14 min); or epidural saline (4 ml over 2 min) and iv saline (10 ml over 14 min). The level of anesthesia was kept constant beginning 10 min before and until 44 min after epidural injection. EEG power spectral analysis was performed throughout the study period using a 2-min average of 8-9-s epochs. Clonidine significantly reduced EEG total power only after epidural administration (P less than 0.05). Relative power increased in the delta band in both the epidural and iv clonidine groups (P less than 0.001). The depression of the total EEG power after epidural injection could be explained neither by systemic absorption alone nor by hemodynamic variations. It may represent the contribution of the direct spinal action of this alpha 2-adrenergic agonist to general anesthesia.
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