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

A randomized, blind comparison of remifentanil and alfentanil during anesthesia for outpatient surgery.

We compared remifentanil, an esterase-metabolized opioid, with alfentanil as part of balanced anesthesia with at least 0.8% isoflurane during outpatient surgery in a randomized, double-blind trial. One hundred two patients received remifentanil, and 99 patients received alfentanil. Patients who received remifentanil experienced significantly fewer stress responses to surgical stimuli (52.9% and 65.7%, P < 0.05); significantly fewer remifentanil patients responded to skin closure (11% and 22%, P < 0.05) than patients who received alfentanil. Significantly more patients in the alfentanil group required extra analgesia compared with the remifentanil group (P < 0.05). Time to respond to verbal command was shorter for alfentanil than remifentanil (median 7 min vs 9 min), and times to spontaneous respiration (median 5 min vs 8 min), adequate respiratory rate (median 6 min vs 9 min), and tracheal extubation (median 6 min vs 9 min) were significantly shorter for alfentanil in comparison with remifentanil (P < 0.05). Remifentanil patients, however, showed significantly better recovery of psychomotor and psychometric function between 30 and 90 min after surgery (P < 0.05). The incidences of hypotension intraoperatively and shivering postoperatively were significantly higher with remifentanil. No unexpected or serious adverse events were recorded with remifentanil; however, one patient who received alfentanil experienced severe recurrent respiratory depression after surgery. The metabolic profile of remifentanil allowed better intraoperative analgesia without compromising recovery. IMPLICATIONS: The pharmacological profile of remifentanil, a new opioid for use in anesthesia, suggests that rapid recovery will occur after its use. This study of 200 outpatients shows that the differences suggested from kinetic studies are not always borne out in clinical practice, although later recovery variables did, in fact, favor remifentanil.[1]


  1. A randomized, blind comparison of remifentanil and alfentanil during anesthesia for outpatient surgery. Cartwright, D.P., Kvalsvik, O., Cassuto, J., Jansen, J.P., Wall, C., Remy, B., Knape, J.T., Noronha, D., Upadhyaya, B.K. Anesth. Analg. (1997) [Pubmed]
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