Remifentanil: a novel, short-acting, mu-opioid

Anesth Analg. 1996 Sep;83(3):646-51. doi: 10.1097/00000539-199609000-00038.


Because of remifentanil's unique pharmacokinetics, its systemic administration may be suitable for clinical settings where a potent, fast-acting, systemic mu-opioid with a rapid recovery is required, e.g., short painful intervention in the emergency room or the intensive care unit, or procedures in the day surgery or endoscopy suite. Total intravenous anesthesia for longer lasting procedures may become more promising because of the predictability of the offset of remifentanil even after long infusions. Its closest competitor, alfentanil, depends on its small volume of distribution for rapid termination of its effect, but still possesses the potential to accumulate because of its relatively long terminal elimination half-life. Remifentanil might be the first potent mu-opioid that does not accumulate in this fashion, and therefore it opens promising new clinical perspectives (52). However, as mentioned above, the relative short-lasting analgesic effect after cessation of the remifentanil infusion might require new, sophisticated techniques from the anesthetist to prevent immediate onset of postoperative pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid* / pharmacology
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Piperidines* / pharmacology
  • Remifentanil


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Piperidines
  • Remifentanil