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Adjuvant therapy with intrathecal clonidine improves postoperative pain in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft.

Author(s): Nader ND, Li CM, Dosluoglu HH, Ignatowski TA, Spengler RN

Affiliation(s): Department of Anesthesiology, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA. nnader@buffalo.edu

Publication date & source: 2009-02, Clin J Pain., 25(2):101-6.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial

BACKGROUND: Alpha2 adrenergic agonists have long been employed as analgesics and to sedate patients undergoing surgical procedures. In addition, their therapeutic response synergizes that elicited by opioids. Although this response is well known, the role of alpha2 agonists, such as clonidine, during various painful surgical procedures remains to be elucidated. The goal of our study was to evaluate the effects of the intrathecal administration of clonidine on postoperative pain control and time to extubation in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. METHODS: Eighty-five patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting randomly received either an intrathecal injection of preservative free morphine 0.5 mg (MOR) or a combination of morphine 0.5 mg and clonidine 100 microg (CMC) before induction of anesthesia. Anesthesia was induced and maintained using a balanced anesthesia technique. Patients were transferred to the intensive care unit while intubated and weaned from mechanical ventilation following an established weaning protocol. Postoperative pain, opioid use within the first 24 hours, and time to extubation were used as primary outcome variables. Data were analyzed by a 2-tailed t test for continuous variables and Fisher exact test for nonparametric variables. RESULTS: There were no demographic differences between the CMC and MOR groups. Postoperative pain, as assessed by a visual analog scale, was milder in the CMC group when compared with that of the MOR group (2.2+/-0.36 vs. 3.4+/-0.33, P<0.05). Similarly, patients in the CMC group required lower doses of morphine within 24 hours compared with the MOR group (2.02+/-0.36 vs. 6.47+/-0.49 mg, P<0.0001). Time to extubation was significantly shorter in patients receiving CMC than in those who received MOR (592+/-52 vs. 887+/-75 min, P<0.05). There was no mortality in either group. There was a trend for increased vasopressin use in the CMC group compared with the MOR group, although this was not statistically significant (P=0.07). CONCLUSIONS: Addition of clonidine to neuraxial opioids improves the quality of analgesia postoperatively and expedites the process of weaning from mechanical ventilation. There were no serious adverse events in the cohort of the patients studied. However, the safety profile of this medication remains to be examined with a larger group of patients.

Page last updated: 2009-10-20

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