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Anesthesiology. 2001 Sep;95(3):640-6.

Magnesium sulfate does not reduce postoperative analgesic requirements.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology and Institute of Cardiovascular Research, Chonbuk National University Medical School and Hospital, South Korea.



Because magnesium blocks the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor and its associated ion channels, it can prevent central sensitization caused by peripheral nociceptive stimulation. However, transport of magnesium from blood to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) across the blood-brain barrier is limited in normal humans. The current study was designed to evaluate whether perioperative intravenous magnesium sulfate infusion affects postoperative pain.


Sixty patients undergoing abdominal hysterectomy received 50 mg/kg intravenous magnesium sulfate as a bolus dose followed by a continuous infusion of 15 mg x kg(-1) x h(-1) for 6 h (magnesium group) or the same volume of isotonic saline (control group). At the end of surgery, serum and CSF magnesium concentration were measured in both groups. The cumulative postoperative analgesic consumption was measured to assess the analgesic effect using a patient-controlled epidural analgesia device. Pain intensities at rest and during forced expiration were evaluated at 6, 24, 48, and 72 h postoperatively.


At the end of surgery, patients in the magnesium group had significantly greater postoperative serum magnesium concentrations compared with both preoperative and control group values (P < 0.001). Despite significantly higher serum magnesium concentrations in the magnesium group, there was no significant difference in magnesium concentration measured in postoperative CSF. Cumulative postoperative analgesic doses were similar in both groups. However, there was observed an inverse relation between cumulative postoperative analgesic consumption and the CSF magnesium concentration in both groups. Visual analog pain scores at rest and during forced expiration were similar and less than 4 in both groups.


Perioperative intravenous administration of magnesium sulfate did not increase CSF magnesium concentration and had no effects on postoperative pain. However, an inverse relation between cumulative postoperative analgesic consumption and the CSF magnesium concentration was observed. These results suggest that perioperative intravenous magnesium infusion may not be useful for preventing postoperative pain.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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