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Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Sep;95(37):e4885. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000004885.

Opioid-free general anesthesia in patient with Steinert syndrome (myotonic dystrophy): Case report.

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Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Therapy, Medical University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland.



We report on the anesthetic management using opioid-free method of a patient with Steinert syndrome (myotonic dystrophy, MD), autosomal dominant dystrophy which is characterized by consistent contracture of muscle following stimulation. A myotonic crisis can be induced by numerous factors including hypothermia, shivering, and mechanical or electrical stimulation. In patients with MD, hypersensitivity to anesthetic drugs, especially muscle relaxants and opioids, may complicate postoperative management. If opioids are employed (systemic or neuraxial), then ICU care and continuous pulse oximetry must be considered given the high risk for respiratory depression and aspiration. Patients with MD present high sensitivity to the usual anesthetics such as volatile and muscle relaxants (both depolarizing and nondepolarizing). Opioids may induce muscle rigidity in this type of MD. Therefore, omitting opioids is recommended. Due to hypersensitivity to opioids and increased susceptibility to intra- and postoperative complications, it is recommended to introduce opioid-free anesthesia (OFA), for example, with use of dexmedetomidine (DEX). This is a new method of conducting general anesthesia without opioids and is based on concept of multimodal approach to pain management.


A 31-year-old male patient (183 cm, 69 kg) was scheduled for laparoscopic operation of cholecystectomy. The patient received intravenously (IV): propofol in a dose of 250 mg followed by continuous infusion, rocuronium in a dose of 20 mg, and DEX in a loading dose of 0.6 μg/kg over 10 minutes followed by continuous infusion of dose of 0.2 μg/kg/hour.


The course of anesthesia and postoperative period were uneventful. The patient exited the operating theatre in a good medical state, with vitals within normal limits and fully regained consciousness.


DEX is effective and safe for moderately painful procedures in patients with the elevated risk of respiratory and cardiovascular failure. This substance provides adequate analgesia level during surgeries of patients suffering from MD.

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