Background: Sufentanil is an intravenous opioid often used as a component of anesthesia during neurosurgical procedures. However, the effects of sufentanil on intracranial pressure in patients with diminished intracranial compliance are not well established, and remain controversial.
Methods: Ten patients with head trauma, in each of whom the trachea was intubated, were studied for the effects of sufentanil on intracranial pressure (ICP) and on cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP). In all patients, ICP monitoring was instituted before the study. Sedation was obtained using a propofol infusion, and paralysis was achieved with vecuronium. After obtaining control of ICP (between 15 and 25 mmHg) hemodynamic values and blood gas tensions (PaCO2 between 30 and 35 mmHg), the level of sedation was deepened with an intravenous injection of sufentanil (1 [micro]g/kg over 6 min), followed by an infusion of 0.005 [micro]g [middle dot] kg-1min-1. Mean arterial pressure (MAP), ICP (fiberoptic intracranial pressure monitor), and end-tidal CO2 were continuously measured and recorded at 1-min intervals throughout the 30-min study period.
Results: Sufentanil injection was associated with a statistically significant increase in ICP of 9 +/- 7 mmHg (+53%), which peaked at 5 min. Then ICP gradually decreased and returned to baseline after 15 min. This was accompanied by a significant decrease in MAP (24% decrease) and, thus, CPP (38% decrease). After 5 min, MAP and CPP gradually increased, but remained significantly decreased throughout the study.
Conclusions: The results of the current study indicate that caution should be exercised in the administration of sufentanil bolus to patients with abnormal intracranial elastance, particularly if ICP is significantly increased.
(C) 1993 American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.