WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THIS TOPIC: WHAT THIS ARTICLE TELLS US THAT IS NEW: BACKGROUND:: Evidence suggests that obstructive sleep apnea promotes postoperative pulmonary complications by enhancing vulnerability to opioid-induced ventilatory depression. We hypothesized that patients with moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea are more sensitive to remifentanil-induced ventilatory depression than controls.METHODS: After institutional approval and written informed consent, patients received a brief remifentanil infusion during continuous monitoring of ventilation. We compared minute ventilation in 30 patients with moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed by polysomnography and 20 controls with no to mild obstructive sleep apnea per polysomnography. Effect site concentrations were estimated by a published pharmacologic model. We modeled minute ventilation as a function of effect site concentration and the estimated carbon dioxide. Obstructive sleep apnea status, body mass index, sex, age, use of continuous positive airway pressure, apnea/hypopnea events per hour of sleep, and minimum nocturnal oxygen saturation measured by pulse oximetry in polysomnography were tested as covariates for remifentanil effect site concentration at half-maximal depression of minute ventilation (Ce50) and included in the model if a threshold of 6.63 (P < 0.01) in the reduction of objective function was reached and improved model fit.RESULTS: Our model described the observed minute ventilation with reasonable accuracy (22% median absolute error). We estimated a remifentanil Ce50 of 2.20 ng · ml (95% CI, 2.09 to 2.33). The estimated value for Ce50 was 2.1 ng · ml (95% CI, 1.9 to 2.3) in patients without obstructive sleep apnea and 2.3 ng · ml (95% CI, 2.2 to 2.5) in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, a statistically nonsignificant difference (P = 0.081). None of the tested covariates demonstrated a significant effect on Ce50. Likelihood profiling with the model including obstructive sleep apnea suggested that the effect of obstructive sleep apnea on remifentanil Ce50 was less than 5%.CONCLUSIONS: Obstructive sleep apnea status, apnea/hypopnea events per hour of sleep, or minimum nocturnal oxygen saturation measured by pulse oximetry did not influence the sensitivity to remifentanil-induced ventilatory depression in awake patients receiving a remifentanil infusion of 0.2 mug · kg of ideal body weight per minute.
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