Back to Journals » Drug Design, Development and Therapy » Volume 11

Fentanyl-induced respiratory depression is attenuated in pregnant patients

Authors Cao X, Liu S, Sun J, Yu M, Fang Y, Ding Z

Received 26 July 2017

Accepted for publication 17 October 2017

Published 22 November 2017 Volume 2017:11 Pages 3325—3332


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Qiongyu Guo

Xiaofei Cao,* Shijiang Liu,* Jie Sun, Min Yu, Yin Fang, Zhengnian Ding

Department of Anesthesiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Respiratory depression is a complication of intravenous fentanyl administration. The effect of pregnancy on respiratory depression following opioid administration is unclear. This study investigated the effect of pregnancy on fentanyl-induced respiratory depression.
Patients and methods: Female patients were divided into three groups (n=20 per group): control group (non-pregnant and scheduled for laparoscopic surgery), early pregnancy group (pregnant for 45–60 days and scheduled for abortion), and postpartum group (5–7 days postpartum scheduled for complete curettage of uterine cavity). All patients received an intravenous infusion of fentanyl 2 µg/kg. Respiratory rate (RR), end-tidal pressure of carbon dioxide (PETCO2), and pulse oxygen saturation (SpO2) were recorded continuously from just before fentanyl infusion to 15 min after commencing infusion. Plasma levels of progesterone were measured.
Results: SpO2 levels in the early pregnancy and postpartum groups were significantly higher and the levels of RR and PETCO2 were significantly lower than the control group. RR and SpO2 levels were significantly decreased in all groups, whereas PETCO2 was significantly increased after fentanyl infusion. The rates of RR increase and SpO2 decrease were significantly faster in the control group than in the other groups. The lowest SpO2 after intravenous fentanyl administration was significantly positively correlated with plasma progesterone levels.
Conclusion: Pregnancy improves fentanyl-induced respiratory depression, which may be associated with the increased levels of plasma progesterone.

Keywords: fentanyl, pregnancy, respiratory depression, progesterone

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]