Background and objective: The implication of intrathecal lidocaine in neurological toxicity has made intrathecal bupivacaine the commonly used drug for local anaesthesia in ambulatory surgery. However, in high doses intrathecal bupivacaine may produce a high level of sensory and motor block, and arterial hypotension; discharge from hospital may be delayed. Intrathecal opioids added to low-dose local anaesthetics produce a synergistic effect without increasing the sympathetic block or delaying discharge. The aim of our study was to identify the minimum effective dose of intrathecal fentanyl that in combination with low-dose intrathecal bupivacaine would provide adequate surgical conditions without prolonging recovery.
Methods: A prospective, single, blind, randomized study was conducted in 45 adult males scheduled for minor urological procedures using intrathecal anaesthesia on a day care basis. Patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups (n = 15 each). They received bupivacaine 0.17% 5 mg – with either fentanyl 7.5 μg (fenta-7.5), 10 μg (fenta-10) or 12.5 μg (fenta-12.5) intrathecally in a total volume of 3 mL. The quality of anaesthesia, haemodynamic stability, time to two-segment and S2 regression, time to micturition, and time to discharge were assessed.
Results: The time to two-segment regression and S2 regression with fenta-12.5 was significantly longer than with fenta-7.5 and fenta-10 (P < 0.01). Fenta-7.5 had a significantly higher number of failed blocks (four patients) compared with fenta-12.5 (P < 0.05). The time out of bed, time to micturition and time to discharge were significantly longer with fenta-10 and fenta-12.5 compared with fenta-7.5, and also with fenta-12.5 compared with fenta-10 (P < 0.01). Haemodynamic stability did not differ for all the drug combinations.
Conclusions: Fentanyl 12.5 μg added to low-dose bupivacaine (5 mg) intrathecally provides better surgical anaesthesia and increased reliability of block than intrathecal fentanyl 7.5 or 10 μg. Haemodynamic stability was the same for all dose combinations used.