Bolus administration of esmolol for controlling the haemodynamic response to tracheal intubation: the Canadian Multicentre Trial

D R Miller, R J Martineau, J E Wynands, J Hill
Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia 1991, 38 (7): 849-58
A multicentre trial was designed to determine the dose-response and side-effects of esmolol when administered as a single iv bolus prior to induction of anaesthesia for controlling the haemodynamic response to tracheal intubation. Five hundred and forty-eight patients from 12 university-affiliated centres across Canada were randomized prospectively to receive either placebo (PLAC) or esmolol (E) in a dose of 100 mg (E100) or 200 mg (E200). Study medication was given immediately before induction of anaesthesia with thiopentone 3-5 and succinylcholine 1.5 Low-dose narcotic (fentanyl 2-3 or sufentanil 0.3 or moderate dose narcotic (fentanyl 4-7 was also given at five of the participating centres, whereas patients in the remaining seven centres received no narcotic. Patients who received PLAC and no narcotic had greater HR and SBP values after tracheal intubation than patients who received either E100 or E200 (P less than 0.005). The proportion of patients whose maximum HR exceeded 110 min-1 was also greater in the PLAC group (22/180) than in either the E100 (10/187) or E200 (9/181) groups (P less than 0.05), but was not different when comparing E100 with E200. Esmolol was less effective in controlling blood pressure, but, in combination with low-dose narcotic, esmolol suppressed the SBP response to tracheal intubation. In the presence of moderate-dose narcotic, however, a decrease in SBP occurred in all three groups following induction of anaesthesia (P less than 0.003), with the largest decrease (17 +/- 4%) occurring in patients who had received E200. The overall incidence of hypotension (SBP less than 90 mmHg) was greater in the E200 group (33%) than either the E100 (25%) or PLAC (16%) groups (P less than 0.05). Other side-effects, such as bradycardia, bronchospasm or pain on injection, occurred no more frequently in either esmolol group than with placebo. It is concluded that a 100 mg bolus of esmolol is safe and effective for controlling the haemodynamic response to tracheal intubation. This dose of esmolol combined with a low dose of narcotic (fentanyl 2-3 or equivalent) results in effective control of both heart rate and blood pressure, while avoiding important side-effects.

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