General anesthetics adversely alters the distribution of infused fluid between the plasma compartment and the extravascular space. This maldistribution occurs largely from the effects of anesthetic agents on lymphatic pumping, which can be demonstrated by macroscopic fluid kinetics studies in awake versus anesthetized patients. The magnitude of this effect can be appreciated as follows: a 30% reduction in lymph flow may result in a fivefold increase of fluid-induced volume expansion of the interstitial space relative to plasma volume. Anesthesia-induced lymphatic dysfunction is a key factor why anesthetized patients require greater than expected fluid administration than can be accounted for by blood loss, urine output, and insensible losses. Anesthesia also blunts the transvascular refill response to bleeding, an important compensatory mechanism during hemorrhagic hypovolemia, in part through lymphatic inhibition. Last, this study addresses how catecholamines and hypertonic and hyperoncotic fluids may mobilize interstitial fluid to mitigate anesthesia-induced lymphatic dysfunction.

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