The aim of the present study was to investigate whether intranasal administration of fentanyl allows a demand-adapted postoperative opioid titration. Forty-two patients who had undergone surgery for lumbar intervertebral disk protrusion were included in a prospective randomized double-blind study. When complaining about intense pain, 22 patients received six sprays of fentanyl (0.027 mg) intranasally and 6 ml sodium chloride 0.9% intravenously and 20 patients received six sprays of sodium chloride 0.9% intranasally and 6 ml of a diluted fentanyl solution (0.027 mg) intravenously. In both groups, these doses were repeated every 5 min until the patients were free of pain or refused further analgesic. Before the beginning of opioid titration and then every 10 min for at least 1 h, pain was evaluated with the aid of a 101-point numerical rating scale and a verbal rating scale. Blood pressure, heart rate, arterial hemoglobin oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, and side effects were recorded. All patients were satisfied with the pain reduction achieved. The total fentanyl dose was 0.073 mg (range 0.027-0.162) in the intravenous group and 0.11 mg (range 0.027-0.243) in the intranasal group. The onset of action after intranasal application was nearly as fast as after intravenous titration. The pain reduction achieved was comparable in both groups. Only at the (10-), 20- and 30-min measurement points was the pain intensity significantly lower in the intravenous than in the intranasal group. One patient of the intravenous group showed a decrease in arterial hemoglobin oxygen saturation to less than 90%. Other serious side effects were not observed. Intranasal fentanyl application was well tolerated by all patients. No patient of either group complained about pain or burning in the nose during or after nasal administration. Intranasal administration of fentanyl provides a comfortable way of opioid titration with a rapid onset of action. This mode of administration is suitable for postoperative pain management.
(C) 1992 American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.