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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Alfentanil causes less postoperative nausea and vomiting than equipotent doses of fentanyl or sufentanil in outpatients.

BACKGROUND: The relative potencies of alfentanil, fentanyl, and sufentanil as a risk factor for postoperative nausea and vomiting have not been determined. They were compared in a randomized study designed to obtain equipotent plasma concentrations of these three opioids at the beginning of the recovery period. METHODS: The study included 274 patients treated on an outpatient basis. The steady state opioid plasma concentration providing a predicted 50% reduction of the minimum alveolar concentration of isoflurane was used to determine the relative potency of the opioids. The opioids were prepared in equal volumes at concentrations of alfentanil 150 microg/ml, fentanyl 50 microg/ml, and sufentanil 5 microg/ml and were administered in vol/kg. Anesthesia was induced in a blinded fashion with a bolus of the study opioid (0.05 ml/kg) and 4-6 mg/kg thiopental and was maintained with isoflurane (0.6-1%) in a nitrous oxide-oxygen mixture with a continuous infusion of the study opioid (0.06 ml x kg(-1) x h(-1)). If necessary, up to five additional boluses of opioid (0.02 ml/kg) could be given. This opioid administration protocol was tested by pharmacokinetic simulations. RESULTS: The incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting was not different in the postanesthesia care unit, but in the ambulatory surgery unit it was significantly lower for alfentanil compared with fentanyl and sufentanil (12, 34, and 35%, respectively P < 0.005). Pharmacokinetic modeling showed that the end-anesthesia opioid plasma concentrations were approximately equipotent in the three groups. However, modeling does not support that the difference between groups in the postoperative period can be explained by a more rapid disappearance of alfentanil from the plasma. CONCLUSIONS: Alfentanil, compared with approximately equipotent doses of fentanyl and sufentanil, is associated with a lower incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting in outpatients.[1]


  1. Alfentanil causes less postoperative nausea and vomiting than equipotent doses of fentanyl or sufentanil in outpatients. Langevin, S., Lessard, M.R., Trépanier, C.A., Baribault, J.P. Anesthesiology (1999) [Pubmed]
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