Introduction: Recent animal studies demonstrated immunosuppressive effects of opioid withdrawal resulting in a higher risk of infection. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of remifentanil discontinuation on intensive care unit (ICU)-acquired infection.
Methods: This was a prospective observational cohort study performed in a 30-bed medical and surgical university ICU, during a one-year period. All patients hospitalised in the ICU for more than 48 hours were eligible. Sedation was based on a written protocol including remifentanil with or without midazolam. Ramsay score was used to evaluate consciousness. The bedside nurse adjusted sedative infusion to obtain the target Ramsay score. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to determine risk factors for ICU-acquired infection.
Results: Five hundred and eighty-seven consecutive patients were included in the study. A microbiologically confirmed ICU-acquired infection was diagnosed in 233 (39%) patients. Incidence rate of ICU-acquired infection was 38 per 1000 ICU-days. Ventilator-associated pneumonia was the most frequently diagnosed ICU-acquired infection (23% of study patients). Pseudomonas aeruginosa was the most frequently isolated microorganism (30%). Multivariate analysis identified remifentanil discontinuation (odds ratio (OR) = 2.53, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.28 to 4.99, P = 0.007), simplified acute physiology score II at ICU admission (1.01 per point, 95% CI = 1 to 1.03, P = 0.011), mechanical ventilation (4.49, 95% CI = 1.52 to 13.2, P = 0.006), tracheostomy (2.25, 95% CI = 1.13 to 4.48, P = 0.021), central venous catheter (2.9, 95% CI = 1.08 to 7.74, P = 0.033) and length of hospital stay (1.05 per day, 95% CI = 1.03 to 1.08, P < 0.001) as independent risk factors for ICU-acquired infection.
Conclusions: Remifentanil discontinuation is independently associated with ICU-acquired infection.