Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Systematic Review

Safety and effectiveness of adding fentanyl or sufentanil to spinal anesthesia: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Neuber Martins Fonseca, Gabriel Magalhães Nunes Guimarães, João Paulo Jordão Pontes, Liana Maria Tores de Araujo Azi, Ricardo de Ávila Oliveira

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Introduction: Spinal infusions of either fentanyl or sufentanil have been reported in international reports, articles, and scientific events worldwide. This study aimed to determine whether intrathecal fentanyl or sufentanil offers safety in mortality and perioperative adverse events.
Methods: MEDLINE (via PubMed), EMBASE, CENTRAL (Cochrane library databases), gray literature, hand-searching, and were systematically searched. Randomized controlled trials with no language, data, or status restrictions were included, comparing the effectiveness and safety of adding spinal lipophilic opioid to local anesthetics (LAs). Data were pooled using the random-effects models or fixed-effect models based on heterogeneity.
Results: The initial search retrieved 4469 records; 3241 records were eligible, and 3152 articles were excluded after reading titles and abstracts, with a high agreement rate (98.6%). After reading the full texts, 76 articles remained. Spinal fentanyl and sufentanil significantly reduced postoperative pain and opioid consumption, increased analgesia and pruritus. Fentanyl, but not sufentanil, significantly reduced both postoperative nausea and vomiting, and postoperative shivering; compared to LAs alone. The analyzed studies did not report any case of in-hospital mortality related to spinal lipophilic opioids. The rate of respiratory depression was 0.7% and 0.8% when spinal fentanyl or sufentanil was added and when it was not, respectively. Episodes of respiratory depression were rare, uneventful, occurred intraoperatively, and were easily manageable.
Conclusion: There is moderate to high quality certainty that there is evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of adding lipophilic opioids to LAs in spinal anesthesia.


Anesthesia, spinal; Fentanyl; Sufentanil; Safety; Drug-related side effects and adverse reactions


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