Author(s): Locala JA, Irefin SA, Malone D, Cywinski JB, Samuel SW
Remifentanil is a short acting opioid frequently used to supplement general anesthesia for brief procedures. Narcotic agents are known for their ability to blunt autonomic responses to stimuli such as laryngoscopy and intubation and do not alter seizure threshold. We hypothesized that the combination of remifentanil and methohexital for induction would produce favorable suppression of sympathetic response during electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). With Institutional Review Board approval and informed consent, patients were enrolled in a prospective, randomized, double-blind, crossover study of methohexital alone versus remifentanil with an adjuvant of low-dose methohexital. One hundred ten ECT treatments were evaluated and subjects were treated in an alternating fashion with one of two induction protocols: Methohexital alone in an 80-100 mg IV bolus or remifentanil 500 mcg IV bolus combined with methohexital 40 mg IV. Bilateral ECT was performed in standard fashion and systolic blood pressure and heart rate were recorded throughout the procedure. No significant differences were found in baseline hemodynamic values between the two groups. Heart rate was significantly lower in the remifentanil group versus methohexital group at one minute post-induction and just prior to ECT stimulus. Pre-ECT systolic blood pressure was not significantly different between the two groups. Heart rate remained lower in the remifentanil group at all measured timepoints during the treatment and continuously for five minutes after the seizure. Systolic blood pressure was significantly lower at one minute following the end of seizure and five minutes after end of seizure. Remifentanil's short duration of action, favorable side effect profile, potential proconvulsant activity and ability to suppress hemodynamic response make it a potential novel drug for ECT induction.