Sufentanil citrate is an opioid analgesic. When used in balanced general anesthesia sufentanil has been reported to be as much as 10 times as potent as fentanyl. When administered intravenously as a primary anesthetic agent with 100% oxygen, sufentanil is approximately 5 to 7 times as potent as fentanyl.
Assays of histamine in patients administered sufentanil have shown no elevation in plasma histamine levels and no indication of histamine release.
(See dosage chart for more complete information on the intravenous use of sufentanil.)
At intravenous doses of up to 8 mcg/kg, sufentanil is an analgesic component of general anesthesia; at intravenous doses ≥8 mcg/kg, sufentanil produces a deep level of anesthesia. Sufentanil produces a dose related attenuation of catecholamine release, particularly norepinephrine.
At intravenous dosages of ≥8 mcg/kg, sufentanil produces hypnosis and anesthesia without the use of additional anesthetic agents. A deep level of anesthesia is maintained at these dosages, as demonstrated by EEG patterns. Dosages of up to 25 mcg/kg attenuate the sympathetic response to surgical stress. The catecholamine response, particularly norepinephrine, is further attenuated at doses of sufentanil of 25-30 mcg/kg with hemodynamic stability and preservation of favorable myocardial oxygen balance.
Sufentanil has an immediate onset of action, with relatively limited accumulation. Rapid elimination from tissue storage sites allows for relatively more rapid recovery as compared with equipotent dosages of fentanyl. At dosages of 1-2 mcg/kg, recovery times are comparable to those observed with fentanyl; at dosages of > 2-6 mcg/kg, recovery times are comparable to enflurane, isoflurane and fentanyl. Within the anesthetic dosage range of 8-30 mcg/kg of sufentanil, recovery times are more rapid compared to equipotent fentanyl dosages.
The vagolytic effects of pancuronium may produce a dose dependent elevation in heart rate during sufentanil-oxygen anesthesia. The use of moderate doses of pancuronium or of a less vagolytic neuromuscular blocking agent may be used to maintain a stable lower heart rate and blood pressure during sufentanil-oxygen anesthesia. The vagolytic effects of pancuronium may be reduced in patients administered nitrous oxide with sufentanil.
Preliminary data suggest that in patients administered high doses of sufentanil, initial dosage requirements for neuromuscular blocking agents are generally lower as compared to patients given fentanyl or halothane, and comparable to patients given enflurane.
Bradycardia is infrequently seen in patients administered sufentanil-oxygen anesthesia. The use of nitrous oxide with high doses of sufentanil may decrease mean arterial pressure, heart rate and cardiac output.
Sufentanil at 20 mcg/kg has been shown to provide more adequate reduction in intracranial volume than equivalent doses of fentanyl, based upon requirements for furosemide and anesthesia supplementation in one study of patients undergoing craniotomy. During carotid endarterectomy, sufentanil-nitrous oxide/oxygen produced reductionsin cerebral blood flow comparable to those of enflurane-nitrous oxide/oxygen. During cardiovascular surgery, sufentanil-oxygen produced EEG patterns similar to fentanyl-oxygen; these EEG changes were judged to be compatible with adequate general anesthesia.
The intraoperative use of sufentanil at anesthetic dosages maintains cardiac output, with a slight reduction in systemic vascular resistance during the initial postoperative period. The incidence of postoperative hypertension, need for vasoactive agents and requirements for postoperative analgesics are generally reduced in patients administered moderate or high doses of sufentanil as compared to patients given inhalation agents.
Skeletal muscle rigidity is related to the dose and speed of administration of sufentanil. This muscular rigidity may occur unless preventative measures are taken (see WARNINGS).
Decreased respiratory drive and increased airway resistance occur with sufentanil. The duration and degree of respiratory depression are dose related when sufentanil is used at sub-anesthetic dosages. At high doses, a pronounced decrease in pulmonary exchange and apnea may be produced.
Epidural Use in Labor and Delivery
Onset of analgesic effect occurs within approximately 10 minutes of administration of epidural doses of sufentanil and bupivacaine. Duration of analgesia following a single epidural injection of 10-15 mcg sufentanil and bupivacaine 0.125% averaged 1.7 hours.
During labor and vaginal delivery, the addition of 10-15 mcg sufentanil to 10 mL 0.125% bupivacaine provides an increase in the duration of analgesia compared to bupivacaine without an opioid. Analgesia from 15 mcg sufentanil plus 10 mL 0.125% bupivacaine is comparable to analgesia from 10 mL of 0.25% bupivacaine alone. Apgar scores of neonates following epidural administration of both drugs to women in labor were comparable to neonates whose mothers received bupivacaine without an opioid epidurally.
The pharmacokinetics of intravenous sufentanil can be described as a three-compartment model, with a distribution time of 1.4 minutes, redistribution of 17.1 minutes and an elimination half-life of 164 minutes. The liver and small intestine are the major sites of biotransformation. Approximately 80% of the administered dose is excreted within 24 hours and only 2% of the dose is eliminated as unchanged drug. Plasma protein binding of sufentanil, related to the alpha1 acid glycoprotein concentration, was approximately 93% in healthy males, 91% in mothers and 79% in neonates.
Epidural Use in Labor and Delivery
After epidural administration of incremental doses totaling 5-40 mcg sufentanil during labor and delivery, maternal and neonatal sufentanil plasma concentrations were at or near the 0.05 to 0.1 ng/mL limit of detection, and were slightly higher in mothers than in their infants.
The intravenous LD50 of sufentanil is 16.8 to 18.0 mg/kg in mice, 11.8 to 13.0 mg/kg in guinea pigs and 10.1 to 19.5 mg/kg in dogs. Reproduction studies performed in rats and rabbits given doses of up to 2.5 times the upper human intravenous dose for a period of 10 to over 30 days revealed high maternal mortality rates due to decreased food consumption and anoxia, which preclude any meaningful interpretation of the results. Epidural and intrathecal injections of sufentanil in dogs and epidural injections in rats were not associated with neurotoxicity.