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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2001 Sep 1;108(3):637-43.

Oral premedication for operations on the face under local anesthesia: a placebo-controlled double-blind trial.

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Clinic for Hand, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Burn Center, University Hospital Z├╝rich, Switzerland.


Modern strategies for preventing or controlling pain and anxiety demand a premedication for operations using local anesthesia and for those using sedation or general anesthesia. For optimal patient care, the premedication should be given orally and, with respect to the outpatient basis of the operations, should have a short recovery period. Midazolam, one of the most favored premedications for general anesthesia, has been recommended as a premedication for operations using local anesthesia as well. However, midazolam has only sedative-anxiolytic effects and does not reduce pain sensation, which should be mandatory for operations using local anesthesia. A further requirement is the maintenance of stable hemodynamics for the prevention of postoperative hematomas, especially in the face. For these reasons, another premedication meeting all requirements (anxiolysis, analgesia, and stable hemodynamics) was researched. A randomized, double-blind prospective study was performed from March of 1997 to June of 1998. Five groups totalling 150 patients were included in the study; each group contained 30 patients who had operations performed solely on the face. In the first four groups, the effect of midazolam (0.15 mg/kg(-1)), morphine (0.3 mg/kg(-1)), and clonidine (1.5 microg/kg(-1)) administered orally was compared with a placebo. The fifth group was the control group and received no premedication. To evaluate the effects of the premedications, a corresponding questionnaire was completed independently by the patient and surgeon. With regard to the anxiolytic or analgesic properties of the premedication, 61 percent of the patients preferred pain reduction to anxiety control, and 24 percent of patients preferred reduction of anxiety. The remainder insisted on a reduction of both properties (8 percent) or had no preference (7 percent). Reduction of anxiety was largest in the midazolam and the clonidine groups, but the difference was not significant. The least pain during the application of local anesthesia was experienced by the morphine group (37 percent) and the clonidine group (33 percent), in contrast to the midazolam group (60 percent) (p = 0.04). Morphine and clonidine met the requirements of pain reduction equally well. Nevertheless, considering the rate and intensity of adverse effects with respect to hemodynamic compromises, nausea, and emesis, clonidine is even better suited as an oral premedication for operations on the face using local anesthesia.

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