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Paediatr Anaesth. 2003 Sep;13(7):596-602.

Efficacy and safety of continuous intravenous infusion of remifentanil in preterm infants undergoing laser therapy in retinopathy of prematurity: clinical experience.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy.



Preterm infants often require surgery. As experimental evidence suggests that premature infants may experience pain and this could even result in fatal complications, the anaesthesiologist must face problems related to lowbirth weight, high risk of hypothermia, concomitant pulmonary disease and metabolic and receptor immaturity. Recently remifentanil has been considered an optimal analgesic drug in a preterm infant undergoing mechanical ventilation and frequent surgical manoeuvres, but no clinical studies have been reported in the literature. The aim of our study was to evaluate the efficacy of a continuous intravenous infusion of remifentanil in premature infants undergoing laser therapy for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).


Six premature infants with ROP were scheduled for laser therapy. The procedure was performed in the neonatal intensive care unit. Transcutaneous carbon dioxide, pulse oximetry, respiratory rate, ECG and noninvasive blood pressure were continuously monitored. Infusion of remifentanil started with a dose of 0.75-1 microg x kg-1x min-1, 1 h before surgery. A midazolam bolus dose (0.20 mg x kg-1) was administered and the remifentanil infusion was increased to 3-5 microg x kg-1x min-1 taking into account haemodynamic and respiratory changes or spontaneous movements.


Increased dosage was necessary only for 10 min during the procedure. No changes in temperature and ventilatory settings were observed and after 2 h from the surgical procedure the preterm infants were back to their preoperative status.


A continuous infusion of remifentanil allowed optimal control of surgical stress and a return to preoperative status and ventilatory settings without side-effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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