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Intrathecal Sufentanil (5 vs. 10 μg) for Labor Analgesia:: Efficacy and Side Effects
  1. Mark C. Norris, M.D.,
  2. Steven T. Fogel, M.D. and
  3. Barbel Holtmann, M.D.
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology. Section of Obstetric Anesthesia, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.
  1. Reprint requests: Mark C. Norris, M.D., Professor of Anesthesiology and Obstetrics & Gynecology, Department of Anesthesiology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8054, St. Louis, MO 63110.


Background and Objectives Despite growing popularity, there are few studies examining the relative efficacy of different doses of intrathecal sufentanil for labor analgesia. This prospective, randomized, double-blind study compared the efficacy and side effects of 5 and 10 μg intrathecal sufentanil.

Methods Sixty-three healthy, laboring, term parturients ≤5 cm cervical dilation participated in this study. In a randomized, double-blind fashion, patients received 5 or 10 μg intrathecal sufentanil as part of a combined spinal epidural technique. Patients rated pain, itching, nausea, and sedation on verbal analog scales before and every 10 minutes after drug injection. We also recorded maternal blood pressure and peripheral oxygen saturation before and every 10 minutes after drug injection. Before and 30 and 60 minutes after drug injection, we measured maternal end-tidal CO2.

Results Both doses of sufentanil provided adequate analgesia. Although 10 μg sufentanil produced slightly more profound analgesia, the duration of pain relief did not differ between the two groups. Both drug doses were associated with significant increases in itching and end-tidal CO2. The 10-μg dose was associated with more sedation and a greater decrease in SaO2.

Conclusions Both 5 and 10 μg intrathecal sufentanil provided adequate labor analgesia. Both doses were associated with measurable spinal (itching) and supraspinal (sedation, respiratory depression) side effects.

  • intrathecal sufentanil
  • labor analgesia
  • respiratory depression.

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  • This study was performed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri. It was supported by the Department of Anesthesiology. Results were presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc., San Diego, California, October 21, 1997.