Effects of remifentanil and alfentanil on the cardiovascular responses to induction of anaesthesia and tracheal intubation in the elderly

A S Habib, J L Parker, A M Maguire, D J Rowbotham, J P Thompson
British Journal of Anaesthesia 2002, 88 (3): 430-3

BACKGROUND: We compared the effects of remifentanil and alfentanil on arterial pressure and heart rate at induction of anaesthesia and tracheal intubation in 40 ASA I-III patients aged greater than 65 yr, in a randomized double-blind study.

METHODS: Patients received either remifentanil 0.5 microg kg(-1) over 30 s, followed by an infusion of 0.1 microg kg min(-1) (group R) or alfentanil 10 microg kg(-1) over 30 s, followed by an infusion of saline (group A). Anaesthesia was then induced with propofol, rocuronium, and 1% isoflurane with 66% nitrous oxide in oxygen.

RESULTS: Systolic arterial pressure (SAP) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) decreased after the induction of anaesthesia (P<0.05) and increased for 3 min after intubation in both groups (P<0.05), but remained below baseline values throughout. Heart rate remained stable after induction of anaesthesia but increased significantly from baseline after intubation for 1 and 4 min in groups R and A, respectively (P<0.05). There were no significant between-group differences in SAP, MAP, and heart rate. Diastolic pressure was significantly higher in group A than group R at 4 and 5 min after intubation (P<0.05). Hypotension (SAP < 100 mm Hg) occurred in four patients in group R and three patients in group A.

CONCLUSIONS: Remifentanil and alfentanil similarly attenuate the pressor response to laryngoscopy and intubation, but the incidence of hypotension confirms that both drugs should be used with caution in elderly patients.

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