Recurrent respiratory depression after total intravenous anaesthesia with propofol and alfentanil

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Since first commented upon by Lamarche in 1984, several cases of recurrent respiratory arrest after alfentanil infusions have been reported. In all these cases the alfentanil infusions have been used to supplement conventional anaesthetic techniques with nitrous oxide and/or inhalational agents and in most cases rather high total alfentanil doses have been administered. We have seen two cases of severe recurrent respiratory depression in healthy patients after relatively minor procedures performed under total intravenous anaesthesia with propofol-alfentanil infusions, air-oxygen ventilation and muscle relaxation, where the alfentanil doses administered were quite small. These cases are presented in detail and compared within a tabulated presentation with the earlier published cases of alfentanil-related recurrent respiratory depression.

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