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Clin Pharmacokinet. 1983 Sep-Oct;8(5):422-46.

Clinical pharmacokinetics of fentanyl and its newer derivatives.


Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate with a (clinical) potency of 50 to 100 times that of morphine, was introduced into clinical practice in the early 1960s. Usually administered by single intravenous doses, it developed a reputation for having a short duration of action and it was assumed that this was a consequence of rapid removal from the body. However, as clinical experience increased, it was realised that administration of multiple doses or large doses during narcotic-based anaesthesia sometimes led to delayed recovery and prolonged respiratory depression, suggesting that the duration of action was limited by redistribution within the body rather than removal from the body. Recent developments in analytical techniques have allowed pharmacokinetic studies and these have confirmed this opinion; fentanyl is rightly regarded as having a redistribution-limited duration of action after single or infrequent doses (analogous to thiopentone). However, the magnitude of the pharmacokinetic constants reported for fentanyl are remarkably inconsistent even in healthy volunteers, for reasons apparently only explainable by assay differences. Hence, estimates of apparent volume of distribution (area) range from around 60L to over 300L, estimates of terminal half-life range from about 1.5 to 6 hours (15 hours in geriatric patients) and total body clearance ranges from 0.4 to over 1.5 L/min. Renal excretion accounts for up to 10% of the dose; the remainder of the clearance would appear to be predominantly hepatic, but with contributions from other tissues. Continued clinical developments of narcotic-based anaesthetic techniques have resulted in high doses of narcotic being used, with oxygen, as the sole anaesthetic agents. At present these techniques are usually based on fentanyl, and the technique is frequently called 'stress-free anaesthesia' because of the effects in obtunding the 'stress response' caused by surgery (elevation of plasma concentrations of cortisol, glucose, ADH, etc. in the intra- and post-operative period) and the lack of deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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