Importance: Sedative premedication is widely administered before surgery, but little clinical evidence supports its use.
Objective: To assess the efficacy of sedative premedication on perioperative patient experience.
Design, setting, and participants: A randomized clinical trial, the PremedX study, enrolled 1062 adult patients who were younger than 70 years and had been scheduled for various elective surgeries under general anesthesia at 5 French teaching hospitals (in Marseille, Montpellier, Nimes, and Nice) between January 2013 and June 2014. Neurosurgery, obstetrical, cardiac, and outpatient surgery were excluded.
Interventions: Patients were randomized to 3 groups of 354 participants each to receive 2.5 mg of lorazepam, no premedication, or placebo.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was perioperative patient experience assessed 24 hours after surgery with a validated questionnaire (Evaluation du Vécu de l'Anesthésie Generale; EVAN-G) describing 6 domains of satisfaction and a global index (score range, 0-100; high scores represent high satisfaction); secondary outcomes included time to extubation and early cognitive recovery. A subgroup analysis was planned a priori in patients with a high level of preoperative anxiety.
Results: Premedication with lorazepam did not improve the EVAN-G mean global index for overall level of patient satisfaction (72 [95% CI, 70-73]; n = 330) compared with no premedication (73 [95% CI, 71-74]; n = 319) or placebo (71 [95% CI, 70-73]; n = 322) (P = .38). Among patients with heightened preoperative anxiety, there were no significant differences found in the EVAN-G mean global index between the lorazepam group (68 [95% CI, 65-72]; n = 87) and the no premedication group (73 [95% CI, 69-77]; n = 57) or the placebo group (70 [95% CI, 67-72]; n = 87) (P = .18). Time to extubation was 17 minutes (95% CI, 14-20 minutes) in the lorazepam group, 12 minutes (95% CI, 11-13 minutes) for the no premedication group, and 13 minutes (95% CI, 12-14 minutes) for the placebo group (P < .001) and the rate of early cognitive recovery was 51% (95% CI, 45%-56%), 71% (95% CI, 66%-76%), and 64% (95% CI, 59%-69%), respectively (P < .001).
Conclusions and relevance: Among patients undergoing elective surgery under general anesthesia, sedative premedication with lorazepam compared with placebo or no premedication did not improve the self-reported patient experience the day after surgery, but was associated with modestly prolonged time to extubation and a lower rate of early cognitive recovery. The findings suggest a lack of benefit with routine use of lorazepam as sedative premedication in patients undergoing general anesthesia.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01901003.