Background: This study was designed to define the appropriate dose of remifentanil hydrochloride alone or combined with midazolam to provide satisfactory comfort and maintain adequate respiration for a monitored anesthesia care setting.
Methods: One hundred fifty-nine patients scheduled for outpatient surgery participated in this multicenter, double-blind study. Patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups: remifentanil, 1 microgram/kg, given over 30 s followed by a continuous infusion of 0.1 microgram.kg-1.min-1 (remifentanil), remifentanil, 0.5 microgram/kg, given over 30 s followed by a continuous infusion of 0.05 microgram.kg-1.min-1 (remifentanil+midazolam). Five minutes after the start of the infusion, patients received a loading dose of saline placebo (remifentanil) or midazolam, 1 mg, (remifentanil+midazolam). If patients were not oversedated, a second dose of placebo or midazolam, 1 mg, was given. Remifentanil was titrated (in increments of 50% from the initial rate) to limit patient discomfort or pain intraoperatively, and the infusion was terminated at the completion of skin closure.
Results: At the time of the local anesthetic, most patients in the remifentanil and remifentanil+midazolam groups experienced no pain (66% and 60%, respectively) and no discomfort (66% and 65%, respectively). The final mean (+/-SD) remifentanil infusion rates were 0.12 +/- 0.05 microgram.kg-1.min-1 (remifentanil) and 0.07 +/- 0.03 microgram.kg-1.min-1 (remifentanil+midazolam). Fewer patients in the remifentanil+midazolam group experienced nauses compared with the remifentanil group (16% vs. 36%, respectively; P < 0.05). Four patients (5%) in the remifentanil group and two patients (2%) in the remifentanil+midazolam group experienced brief periods of oxygen desaturation (SpO2 < 90%) and hypoventilation (< 8 breaths/ min).
Conclusions: Remifentanil alone or combined with midazolam provided adequate analgesia and maintained adequate respiration at the doses reported. The low dose of remifentanil combined with 2 mg midazolam, compared with remifentanil alone, resulted in fewer side effects, slightly greater sedation, and less anxiety.