High-dose remifentanil does not impair cerebrovascular carbon dioxide reactivity in healthy male volunteers

Walter Klimscha, Roman Ulirich, Christian Nasel, Wolfgang Dietrich, Udo M. Illievich, Eckart Wildling, Edda Tschernko, Claudia Weidekamm, Leopold Adler, Georg Heikenwälder, Gyongyi Horvath, Robert N. Sladen

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Background: Cerebrovascular carbon dioxide reactivity during high-dose remifentanil infusion was investigated in volunteers by measurement of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and mean CBF velocity (CBFv). Methods: Ten healthy male volunteers with a laryngeal mask for artificial ventilation received remifentanil at an infusion rate of 2 and 4 μg · kg-1 · min-1 under normocapnia, hypocapnia, and hypercapnia. Stable xenon-enhanced computed tomography and transcranial Doppler ultrasonography of the left middle cerebral artery were used to assess rCBF and mean CBFv, respectively. If required, blood pressure was maintained within baseline values with intravenous phenylephrine to avoid confounding effects of altered hemodynamics. Results: Hemodynamic parameters were maintained constant over time. Remifentanil infusion at 2 and 4 μg · kg-1 · min-1 significantly decreased rCBF and mean CBFv. Both rCBF and mean CBFv increased as the arterial carbon dioxide tension increased from hypocapnia to hypercapnia, indicating that cerebrovascular reactivity remained intact. The average slopes of rCBF reactivity were 0.56 ± 0.27 and 0.49 ± 0.28 ml · 100 g-1 · min-1 · mmHg-1 for 2 and 4 μg·kg-1·min -1 remifentanil, respectively (relative change in percent/mmHg: 1.9 ± 0.8 and 1.6 ± 0.5, respectively). The average slopes for mean CBFv reactivity were 1.61 ± 0.95 and 1.54 ± 0.83 cm · s-1 · mmHg-1 for 2 and 4 μg · kg -1 · min-1 remifentanil, respectively (relative change in percent/mmHg: 1.86 ± 0.59 and 1.79 ± 0.59, respectively). Preanesthesia and postanesthesia values of rCBF and mean CBFv did not differ. Conclusion: High-dose remifentanil decreases rCBF and mean CBFv without impairing cerebrovascular carbon dioxide reactivity. This, together with its known short duration of action, makes remifentanil a useful agent in the intensive care unit when sedation that can be titrated rapidly is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)834-840
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Cite this

Klimscha, W., Ulirich, R., Nasel, C., Dietrich, W., Illievich, U. M., Wildling, E., Tschernko, E., Weidekamm, C., Adler, L., Heikenwälder, G., Horvath, G., & Sladen, R. N. (2003). High-dose remifentanil does not impair cerebrovascular carbon dioxide reactivity in healthy male volunteers. Anesthesiology, 99(4), 834-840. https://doi.org/10.1097/00000542-200310000-00014