Study suggests dexmedetomidine before surgery reduced remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia

Surgical patients who demonstrated heightened pain sensitivity, or hyperalgesia, induced by high doses of a synthetic opioid had their symptoms alleviated by co-treatment with dexmedetomidine, according to new research. Study investigators, who presented their results today at the 29th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, concluded that dexmedetomidine may be a new and effective treatment option for opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH).

OIH refers to increased due to high-dose or prolonged opioid exposure. is an alpha-2 adrenergic agonist that is believed, based on prior research, to reduce pain and opioid requirements after surgery (Blaudszun et al, Anesthesiology 2012;116(6):1312-22). In the current study, OIH was induced by high doses of remifentanil, which is an ultra short-acting synthetic opioid used during surgery as an adjunct to anesthesia and to relieve pain.

"High-dose remifentanil can induce hyperalgesia, which is marked by a decreased mechanical hyperalgesia threshold, enhanced , shorter time to first postoperative analgesic requirement and greater morphine consumption," said Kim Yeon-Dong, MD, lead study author and a clinical professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at Wonkwang University Hospital in Iksan City, South Korea. "Dexmedetomidine infusion efficiently alleviated these symptoms."

Patients treated with dexmedetomidine reported less pain, used less post-surgical morphine, and went longer before requesting medication for pain relief than patients treated with placebo. They also reported fewer adverse opioid-related effects, including nausea.

The research was conducted on 90 patients who underwent laparoscopically-assisted . Patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 research groups, each of which received either dexmedetomidine or placebo saline 15 minutes before surgery. During surgery, all patients received a remifentanil infusion.

Group C received placebo and a comparatively low dose (0.05 µg/kg/min) of remifentanil. The next 2 groups received higher doses of remifentanil: group RH received placebo and 0.3 µg/kg/min remifentanil; and group DRH received dexmedetomidine and 0.3 µg/kg/min remifentanil.

Patients in the RH group, who were treated with placebo and high-dose remifentanil, had a lower threshold for mechanical in the 24 hours after surgery than the other 2 groups and were the first to require analgesia for pain. The same placebo group also had more pain intensity and greater use of patient-controlled morphine for pain than group DRH, which received dexmedetomidine and high-dose remifentanil. Additionally, group DRH reported less shivering and postoperative nausea and vomiting than the other 2 groups. All findings were statistically significant.

Dr. Kim said those who might benefit from treatment with alpha-2 agonists include patients who are hospitalized for painful conditions or procedures and who have not responded to traditional medication.

Provided by American Academy of Pain Medicine

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Anesthesia regimen linked to post-orthognathic op pain

Jul 31, 2012

(HealthDay) -- Patients undergoing orthognathic maxillofacial surgery experience more pain postoperatively if they receive anesthesia with propofol and remifentanil versus inhalational agents and longer-acting ...

Cannabinoid formulation benefits opioid-refractory pain

Jun 13, 2012

(HealthDay) -- A novel cannabinoid formulation, nabiximols, is safe and effective for patients with advanced cancer and opioid-refractory pain, especially at a low-dose, according to a study published in the ...

Recommended for you

Health care M&A leads global deal surge

Nov 23, 2014

In a big year for deal making, the health care industry is a standout. Large drugmakers are buying and selling businesses to control costs and deploy surplus cash. A rising stock market, tax strategies and ...

US approves new, hard-to-abuse hydrocodone pill (Update)

Nov 20, 2014

U.S. government health regulators on Thursday approved the first hard-to-abuse version of the painkiller hydrocodone, offering an alternative to a similar medication that has been widely criticized for lacking ...

Soaring generic drug prices draw Senate scrutiny

Nov 20, 2014

Some low-cost generic drugs that have helped restrain health care costs for decades are seeing unexpected price spikes of up to 8,000 percent, prompting a backlash from patients, pharmacists and now Washington ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.