Assessment of tracheal intubating conditions in children using remifentanil and propofol without muscle relaxant

Y K Batra, A R Al Qattan, S S Ali, M I Qureshi, D Kuriakose, A Migahed
Paediatric Anaesthesia 2004, 14 (6): 452-6

BACKGROUND: Tracheal intubation in children can be achieved by deep inhalational anaesthesia or an intravenous anaesthetic and a muscle relaxant, suxamethonium being widely used despite several side-effects. Studies have shown that oral intubation can be facilitated safely and effectively in children after induction of anaesthesia with propofol and alfentanil without a muscle relaxant. Remifentanil is a new, ultra-short acting, selective mu-receptor agonist that is 20-30 times more potent than alfentanil. This clinical study was designed to assess whether combination of propofol and remifentanil could be used without a muscle relaxant to facilitate tracheal intubation in children.

METHODS: Forty children (5-10 years) admitted for adenotonsillectomy were randomly allocated to one of two groups to receive remifentanil 2 (Gp I) or remifentanil 3 (Gp II) before the induction of anaesthesia with i.v. propofol 3 No neuromuscular blocking agent was administered. Intubating conditions were assessed using a four-point scoring system based on ease of laryngoscopy, jaw relaxation, position of vocal cords, degree of coughing and limb movement. Mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate (HR) measured noninvasively before induction of anaesthesia to 5 min after intubation (seven time points).

RESULTS: Tracheal intubation was successful in all patients without requiring neuromuscular blocking agent. Intubating conditions were clinically acceptable in 10 of 20 patients (50%) in Gp I compared with 18 of 20 patients (90%) in Gp II (P < 0.05). MAP and HR decreased in both groups after induction of anaesthesia (P < 0.01). Both HR and MAP were significantly lower in Gp II compared with Gp I after tracheal intubation (P < 0.01). No patient in the present study developed bradycardia or hypotension.

CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that remifentanil (3, administered before propofol (3 provides acceptable tracheal intubating conditions in children, and completely inhibited the increase in HR and MAP associated with intubation.

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