Intrathecal fentanyl prolongs sensory bupivacaine spinal block

H Singh, J Yang, K Thornton, A H Giesecke
Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia 1995, 42 (11): 987-91
The purpose of investigation was to study the effect of intrathecal fentanyl on the onset and duration of hyperbaric bupivacaine-induced spinal block in adult male patients. Forty-three patients undergoing lower extremity or genitourinary surgery were enrolled to receive either 13.5 mg hyperbaric bupivacaine 0.75% + 0.5 ml CSF it, (Group I) or 13.5 mg hyperbaric bupivacaine 0.75% + 25 micrograms fentanyl it, (Group II) according to a randomized assessor-blind protocol. The onset and duration of sensory block were assessed by pinching the skin with forceps in the midclavicular line bilaterally every two minutes for first twenty minutes and then every five to ten minutes. Similarly, the onset and duration of motor block were assessed and graded at the same time intervals using the criteria described by Bromage. The time required for two sensory segment regression and sensory regression to L1 dermatome was 74 +/- 18 and 110 +/- 33 min vs 93 +/- 22 and 141 +/- 37 min in Groups I and II, respectively (P < 0.05). Intrathecal fentanyl did not enhance the onset of sensory or motor block, or prolong the duration of bupivacaine-induced motor spinal block. Fewer patients demanded pain relief in the fentanyl-treated group than in the control group in the early postoperative period (19% vs 59%; P < 0.05). Episodes of hypotension were more frequent in the fentanyl-treated group than in the control group (43% vs 14%; P < 0.05). We conclude that fentanyl, 25 micrograms it, prolonged the duration of bupivacaine-induced sensory block (sensory regression to L1 dermatone) by 28% and reduced the analgesic requirement in the early postoperative period following bupivacaine spinal block.

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