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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Oct 2019 - 11 Oct 2019

Human Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Feb




Remifentanil for abdominal surgery is associated unexpectedly unfavorable outcomes.


Niedermayer S, Heyn J, Guenther F, Küchenhoff H, Luchting B
Pain. 2020 Feb; 161(2):266-273.
PMID: 31592999.


Insufficient perioperative pain treatment is known as a highly predictive risk factor for the development of chronic postoperative pain. Remifentanil is an ultrashort-acting opioid that provides quick and efficient analgesia but is associated with the induction of opioid-induced hyperalgesia. Despite these well-known characteristics, this substance is being increasingly used in anesthesia and in a variety of medical fields, such as intensive-care medicine and obstetrics.The aim of our study was to reveal whether remifentanil influences postoperative pain, the requirement for postoperative analgesics, and requirement of antiemetics (as indirect indicator of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), as well as the effects on time to extubation and length of stay in the postanesthesia care-unit (PACU) in daily clinical routine.From an electronic medical records database of 55,693 anesthesias, we analyzed data from all patients receiving intraabdominal surgery (visceral, gynecological and urological) under general anesthesia or combined general-epidural anesthesia by propensity score matching.The administration of remifentanil was associated with higher postoperative pain scores despite a higher requirement of postoperative analgesics. Additional epidural analgesia was not able to avoid this finding.The intraoperative use of remifentanil is associated with a deterioration of pain levels and postoperative analgesic requirement, wherefore the potential benefit of this substance seems to be outweighed by its potential disadvantages. Especially in operative procedures in which high postoperative pain scores are expected, the unreflective use should be critically questioned.