Anesthesiologists can offer much more then stable blood pressure and heart rate in the intraoperative period. By choosing appropriate anesthetic techniques they can tremendously influence perioperative stress. This may positively impact on the overall surgical outcome. One of the most intriguing aspects of neuraxial anesthesia is its ability to attenuate the stress response to surgery.
At present there is no agreement on the clinical importance of such a response but there is substantial indirect evidence that it may play an important role in a patient’s outcome. Neuraxial anesthesia supplemented by general anesthesia is justified and can be safely used in cardiac surgery.
The authors of this expert opinion prefer spinal anesthesia to thoracic epidural anesthesia and have been using it routinely for the last 20 years without any neurological complications. The risk of spinal hematoma from a 27G spinal needle prior to full heparinization is unknown but in our opinion is remote. Both epidural and spinal techniques can and should have a place in modern cardiac anesthesia practice and should be further investigated.