The impact of intra-operative sufentanil dosing on post-operative pain, hyperalgesia and morphine consumption after cardiac surgery

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There is an ongoing debate whether opioids when used for intra-operative analgesia may enhance post-operative pain. We studied the effect of two different intra-operative dosings of sufentanil on post-operative morphine consumption, pain and hyperalgesia after cardiac anaesthesia.


Forty-two male patients (age: 48–74 years) undergoing first-time coronary artery bypass graft surgery were randomized to one of two groups receiving total intravenous anaesthesia with propofol and a target controlled infusion of sufentanil with a target of 0.4 ng/mL (group SL, n = 20) or 0.8 ng/mL (group SH, n = 22) plasma concentration. Post-operative morphine requirement in the first 48 h was assessed using patient-controlled analgesia (PCA). Pain rating during deep inspiration, and the extent of primary and secondary hyperalgesia near the sternotomy wound were assessed.


The post-operative morphine requirements in the first 48 h were 0.68 ± 0.21 mg/kg in group SL and 0.96 ± 0.44 mg/kg in group SH (p < 0.05). In group SL, pain during deep inspiration was significantly lower on the first post-operative day (p < 0.05). Primary hyperalgesia had its maximum on the second and third post-operative day, without a difference between the two groups. The extent of secondary mechanical pinprick hyperalgesia was not different between the groups.


Intra-operative dosing of sufentanil significantly influenced post-operative morphine consumption, pain and hyperalgesia. For cardiac anaesthesia in combination with propofol, a sufentanil target concentration of 0.4 ng/mL may be preferable.

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