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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 34  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 307-313

Effect of remifentanil on the recovery profile after head and neck surgeries: A prospective study

1 Department of Anesthesiology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore
2 Department of Anesthesiology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa, USA
3 Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Correspondence Address:
Sudhakar Subramani
Department of Anesthesia, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/joacp.JOACP_337_16

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Background and Aims: Development of opioid tolerance in the perioperative period due to remifentanil remains controversial. We evaluated occurrence of opioid tolerance and other adverse effects due to remifentanil in patients undergoing head and neck surgery. Material and Methods: We recruited adult participants with ASA status I to III who received general anesthesia for approximately 2 h for elective head and neck procedures. Remifentanil infusion was used in one group and intermittent boluses of morphine or fentanyl were administered in another group. Postoperative pain was treated with intermittent boluses of morphine and fentanyl in post-anaesthesia care unit (PACU) to achieve a numerical rating scale score of 3. Opioid requirement was assessed as an indicator of opioid tolerance. Patients were also evaluated for time to discharge from PACU. Results: We studied 222 adults aged between 21 and 80 years. One hundred and eleven patients received a combination of remifentanil infusion and morphine boluses, and another 111 patients received only fentanyl and/or morphine boluses intraoperatively. Fifty-one patients in the remifentanil group and 25 in the fentanyl/morphine group required opioids in the PACU. Opioid requirement were significantly more (mean ± SD, 44.98 ± 59.7 Vs 20.23 ± 46.66−1; P = 0.001) and required longer time to discharge from PACU in the remifentanil group compared to the fentanyl/morphine group (Mean ± SD, 88.6 ± 39.5 min Vs 73.1 ± 38.4 min; P < 0.001). No difference in the incidence of adverse effects in two groups was noted. Conclusion: At clinically relevant doses, intraoperative remifentanil infusion appears to increase opioid consumption in the immediate postoperative period. This can result in delayed discharge from PACU for patients undergoing elective head and neck procedures.

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