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Br J Anaesth. 2013 Feb;110(2):274-80. doi: 10.1093/bja/aes382. Epub 2012 Oct 26.

Comparison of propofol and fentanyl administered at the end of anaesthesia for prevention of emergence agitation after sevoflurane anaesthesia in children.

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Department of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Anaesthesia and Pain Research Institute, Yonsei University College of Medicine, 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-752, Republic of Korea.



Propofol and fentanyl can be administered at the end of sevoflurane anaesthesia to decrease the incidence and severity of emergence agitation (EA), although it has not been determined which agent has superior efficacy. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of propofol and fentanyl on EA.


In this prospective, randomized, double-blind study, 222 children, 18-72 months of age, undergoing sevoflurane anaesthesia were randomly assigned to one of the three groups receiving either propofol 1 mg kg(-1) (Group P), fentanyl 1 µg kg(-1) (Group F), or saline (Group S) at the end of anaesthesia. The incidence and severity of EA were evaluated with the paediatric anaesthesia emergence delirium (PAED) scale. Time to recovery and incidence of nausea/vomiting were assessed.


The mean PAED score was 4.3 in Group P and 4.9 in Group F (P=0.682), which were lower than 9.0 in Group S (P<0.001). Nausea and vomiting were significantly more frequent in Group F than Groups P and S (adjusted P=0.003 and adjusted P<0.001). Group F had also longer stay in the post-anaesthesia care unit (PACU) than Group S (P<0.001), while Group P did not. However, the differences in PACU stays between the P and F groups were considered clinically insignificant.


Small doses of propofol or fentanyl at the end of sevoflurane anaesthesia comparably reduced EA. Propofol was better than fentanyl due to a lower incidence of nausea and vomiting.

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