Numerous animal studies have shown that all commonly used intravenous anaesthetic drugs and volatile agents may cause neuronal apoptosis following exposure in early life. Most studies have focussed on detecting increased apoptosis but their methods are not always readily transferrable to humans. The lipid formulation of etomidate represents an alternative to the currently established intravenous anaesthetic agents but there is no animal or human data on apoptosis or long-term behavioural changes. The aim of our study was to investigate the effects of etomidate on cerebral neuronal apoptosis and long-term behavioural effects using an established mouse model that represents the clinically relevant period of anaesthesia during early infancy in humans.

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