Does functional ability in the postoperative period differ between remifentanil- and fentanyl-based anesthesia?

Lee A. Fleisher, Susan Hogue, Mike Colopy, Rebecca S. Twersky, David S. Warner, Brenda D. Jamerson, Kenneth J. Tuman, Peter S.A. Glass, Michael F. Roizen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: To compare patients' functional ability in the 24-hour postoperative period following a remifentanil compared to a hypnotic-fentanyl-treated anesthesia regimen using a 24-Hour Functional Ability Questionnaire. Design: Prospective, 1:1 single-blind, randomized, controlled effectiveness study. Setting: Multicenter study including 156 hospitals and ambulatory surgery facilities. Patients: 2438 patients (1496 outpatients and 942 inpatients) 18 years of age or older, scheduled for elective surgeries under general endotracheal anesthesia, with an expected duration of unconsciousness of ≥30 minutes. Interventions: Patients were randomized to receive either intravenous remifentanil (0.5 μg/kg/min for induction and intubation; with the infusion rate decreased to 0.25 μg/kg/min after intubation) or fentanyl (administered according to anesthesiologists' usual practice) as the opioid during surgery. Concomitant hypnotic drugs were propofol and/or isoflurane (with or without nitrous oxide) titrated according to protocol. Transition analgesia with either morphine or fentanyl was given in the remifentanil patients and at the discretion of the anesthesiologists in the fentanyl patients. Measurements: A validated set of measurements of functional ability, rather than more traditional clinical psychological methods, to compare the recovery of patients from remifentanil- and fentanyl-treated anesthetic regimens up to 24 hours after surgery. Main Results: Remifentanil was statistically superior to fentanyl for the four functional assessments evaluated: walking without dizziness, thinking clearly, concentration, and communicating effectively. These differences reflect events occurring within the first 24 hours after anesthesia and surgery. Conclusions: A remifentanil-treated anesthetic demonstrated earlier return to some functions than a fentanyl-treated technique. Although functional assessment is a field that is still in its infancy, a questionnaire to assess functional ability during the 24 hours after anesthesia may provide more practical information about anesthetic recovery than previously used, traditional psychomotor evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-406
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Functional status
  • Outcomes
  • Outpatients
  • Recovery
  • Remifentanil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Does functional ability in the postoperative period differ between remifentanil- and fentanyl-based anesthesia?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this