Background and objective: To compare the effects of remifentanil and fentanyl on intraocular pressure during the maintenance and recovery of anaesthesia in patients undergoing elective non-ophthalmic surgery.
Methods: Thirty-two patients (ASA I–II) were randomized into two groups to receive either a continuous infusion of remifentanil (0.25–0.5 μg kg−1 min−1, n = 16, Group R) or an intermittent bolus of fentanyl (2–5 μg kg−1, n = 16, Group F) during the maintenance of anaesthesia. For the induction of anaesthesia, Group R received remifentanil 1 μg kg−1 and Group F received fentanyl 2 μg kg−1; both groups then received propofol 2 mg kg−1 with vecuronium 0.1 mg kg−1. Anaesthesia in both groups was maintained with a continuous infusion of propofol 4–8 mg kg−1 h−1. Ventilation of the lungs was controlled to a constant end-tidal PCO2 of 4.7–5.4 kPa. Blood pressure, electrocardiography, heart rate and oxygen saturation were monitored throughout anaesthesia. Intraocular pressure was determined before surgery, during the maintenance of anaesthesia, 2 min after emergence and in the recovery room using a Perkins hand-held applanation tonometer by an ophthalmologist blinded to the anaesthetic technique.
Results: After induction of anaesthesia, a significant decrease in intraocular pressure in the remifentanil group from 13.6 ± 2.6 to 7.1 ± 3.1 mmHg (P < 0.001) and in the fentanyl group from 13.7 ± 2.2 to 9.7 ± 3.4 mmHg (P < 0.001) was observed and maintained during anaesthesia. Thirty minutes after the end of anaesthesia, intraocular pressure returned to baseline values in both groups (remifentanil: 13.9 ± 2.8 mmHg, P = 0.28; fentanyl: 13.6 ± 2.3 mmHg, P = 0.59). The intraocular pressure and haemodynamic variables did not differ significantly between the two groups (intraocular pressure, P = 0.7327; blood pressure, P = 0.1295; heart rate, P = 0.8601).
Conclusions: Remifentanil maintains intraocular pressure at an equally reduced level compared with fentanyl.