Background and objective: Drug mixtures containing sufentanil may be unstable owing to absorption into the drug reservoirs of patient-controlled epidural analgesia systems that contain polyvinylchloride. The stability of sufentanil in a mixture of ropivacaine 0.2% in a 750 mL reservoir was therefore investigated.
Methods: During simulated epidural infusions of 5 mL h−1 at 25°C, sufentanil concentrations were measured for 96 h. Samples were taken from the reservoir and from the end of the epidural catheter under the following conditions: into glass or polyvinylchloride reservoirs containing ropivacaine 0.2% with sufentanil 1, 0.75 or 0.5 μg mL−1; and into polyvinylchloride reservoirs with ropivacaine 0.2% and sufentanil 1 μg mL−1 which were stored for 4 weeks at 8°C.
Results: The different solutions remained stable over the observation period of 96h. Using the same solutions, independent samples’ ANOVA showed no difference in the sufentanil concentrations between the glass and polyvinylchloride reservoirs, or between the polyvinylchloride reservoirs when stored for 4 weeks. Correlations between the concentrations at the different measurement times were extremely high for the reservoir (rmin = 0.98, rmax = 1.00) and the catheter end (rmin = 0.86, rmax = 1.00).
Conclusions: Sufentanil citrate at 0.5–1.0 μg mL−1 in an admixture of ropivacaine 0.2% for 5 days, which is the usual period for postoperative epidural analgesia, remains stable in a polyvinylchloride reservoir. There is no change in the drug concentration even if the reservoir is stored for 4 weeks at 8°C.