Intrathecal Fentanyl With Small-Dose Dilute Bupivacaine: Better Anesthesia Without Prolonging Recovery

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Recent concern regarding lidocaine neurotoxicity has prompted efforts to find alternatives to lidocaine spinal anesthesia.Small-dose dilute bupivacaine spinal anesthesia yields a comparably rapid recovery profile but may provide insufficient anesthesia. By exploiting the synergism between intrathecal opioids and local anesthetics, it may be possible to augment the spinal anesthesia without prolonging recovery. Fifty patients undergoing ambulatory surgical arthroscopy were randomized into two groups receiving spinal anesthesia with 3 ml 0.17% bupivacaine in 2.66% dextrose without (Group I) or with (Group II) the addition of 10 micro g fentanyl. Median block levels reached T7 and T8, respectively (P = not significant [NS]). Mean times to two-segment regression, S2 regression, time out of bed, time to urination, and time to discharge were 53 vs 67 min (P < 0.01), 120 vs 146 min (P < 0.05), 146 vs 163 min (P = NS), 169 vs 177 min (P = NS), and 187 vs 195 min (P = NS) respectively. Motor blockade was similar between groups, but sensory blockade was significantly more intense in Group II (P < 0.01). Six of 25 blocks failed in Group I, whereas none failed in Group II. The addition of 10 micro g fentanyl to spinal anesthesia with dilute small-dose bupivacaine intensifies and increases the duration of sensory blockade without increasing the intensity of motor blockade or prolonging recovery to micturition or street fitness. Implications: Concerns about the neurotoxicity of lidocaine have prompted efforts to find alternatives to lidocaine spinal anesthesia. We studied 50 patients undergoing ambulatory surgical arthroscopy and found that although small-dose bupivacaine alone is inadequate for this procedure, the addition of fentanyl makes it reliable.(Anesth Analg 1997;85:560-5)

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