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Remifentanil/midazolam versus fentanyl/midazolam for analgesia and sedation of mechanically ventilated neonates and young infants: a randomized controlled trial

Lars Welzing| Andre Oberthuer| Shino Junghaenel| Urs Harnischmacher| Hartmut Stützer| Bernhard Roth
Pediatric Original
Volume 38, Issue 6 / June , 2012

Pages 1017 - 1024

Abstract

Purpose

Common opioids for analgesia and sedation of mechanically ventilated infants may tend to accumulate and cause prolonged sedation with an unpredictable extubation time. Remifentanil is a promising option due to its unique pharmacokinetic properties, which seem to be valid in adults as well as in infants.

Methods

In this double-blind, randomized, controlled trial mechanically ventilated neonates and young infants (<60 days) received either a remifentanil or fentanyl-based analgesia and sedation regimen with low dose midazolam. The primary endpoint of the trial was the extubation time following discontinuation of the opioid infusion. Secondary endpoints included efficacy and safety aspects.

Results

Between November 2006 and March 2010, we screened 431 mechanically ventilated infants for eligibility. The intention to treat group included 23 infants who were assigned to receive either remifentanil (n = 11) or fentanyl (n = 12). Although this was designed as a pilot study, median extubation time was significantly shorter in the remifentanil group (80.0 min, IQR = 15.0–165.0) compared to the fentanyl group (782.5 min, IQR = 250.8–1,875.0) (p = 0.005). Remifentanil and fentanyl provided comparable efficacy with more than two-thirds of the measurements indicating optimal analgesia and sedation (66.4 and 70.2 %, respectively; p = 0.743). Overall, both groups had good hemodynamic stability and a comparably low incidence of adverse events.

Conclusions

As neonates and young infants have a decreased metabolism of common opioids like fentanyl and are more prone to respiratory depression, remifentanil could be the ideal opioid for analgesia and sedation of mechanically ventilated infants.

Keywords

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