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Remifentanil-induced postoperative hyperalgesia: current perspectives on mechanisms and therapeutic strategies

Authors Santonocito C, Noto A, Crimi C, Sanfilippo F

Received 25 January 2018

Accepted for publication 19 March 2018

Published 9 April 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 15—23

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/LRA.S143618

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Stefan Wirz


Cristina Santonocito,1 Alberto Noto,2 Claudia Crimi,3 Filippo Sanfilippo1

1Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, IRCCS-ISMETT (Istituto Mediterraneo per i Trapianti e Terapie ad alta specializzazione), Palermo, Italy; 2Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Messina University, Messina, Italy; 3Department of Respiratory Medicine, AOU “Policlinico-Vittorio Emanuele”, University of Catania, Catania, Italy

Abstract: The use of remifentanil in clinical practice offers several advantages and it is used for a wide range of procedures, ranging from day-surgery anesthesia to more complex procedures. Nonetheless, remifentanil has been consistently linked with development of opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH), which is described as a paradoxical increase in sensitivity to painful stimuli that develops after exposure to opioid treatment. The development of OIH may cause several issues, delaying recovery after surgery and preventing timely patient’s discharge. Moreover, it causes patient’s discomfort with higher pain scores, greater use of analgesics, and associated side effects. Remifentanil is the opioid most convincingly associated with OIH, and hereby we provide a review of remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia, describing both the underlying mechanisms involved and the available studies investigating experimental and clinical pharmacologic approaches aiming at reducing its incidence and degree.

Keywords: opioid-induced hyperalgesia, pain, opioid consumption, opioid tolerance

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