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The technique for ultra rapid opioid detoxification is designed to shorten the detoxification period by precipitating withdrawal by the administration of opioid antagonists such as naloxone or naltrexone. This procedure is performed under deep sedation or general anaesthesia to ensure that the patient does not consciously experience the acute withdrawal phase. This strategy has aroused controversy regarding the risk of sedation or anaesthesia in this situation. In the present study, ultra rapid opioid detoxification was carried out in 12 opiate-addicted patients by infusion of naloxone 4 mg for a period of 5 h using controlled ventilation during general anaesthesia, induced and maintained with midazolam, propofol and atracurium. Invasive cardiovascular and respiratory monitoring was performed, and withdrawal signs were evaluated using a graduated scale. Anaesthesia was maintained for another hour after the completion of the naloxone infusion. The validity of this anaesthesia protocol was confirmed by the relative lack of change in the patients’ haemodynamic values associated with mild signs of withdrawal.
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