Perioperative Opioid Consumption is Not Reduced in Cyanotic Patients Presenting for the Fontan Procedure

Teresa M. Murray-Torres, Joseph D. Tobias, Peter D. Winch

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2 Scopus citations


Adequate pain control is a critical component of the perioperative approach to children undergoing repair of congenital heart disease (CHD). The impact of specific anatomic and physiologic disturbances on the management of analgesia has been largely unexplored at the present time. Studies in other pediatric populations have found an association between chronic hypoxemia and an increased sensitivity to the effects of opioid medications. The purpose of this retrospective study was to examine perioperative opioid administration and opioid-associated adverse effects in children undergoing surgical repair of CHD, with a comparison between patients with and without chronic preoperative cyanosis. Patients between the ages of 2 and 5 years whose tracheas were extubated in the operating room were included and were classified in the cyanotic group if they presented for the Fontan completion. The primary outcomes of interest were intraoperative and postoperative opioid administration. Secondary outcomes included pain scores and opioid-related side effects. The study cohort included 156 patients. Seventy-one underwent the Fontan procedure, twelve of which were fenestrated. Fontan patients received fewer opioids intraoperatively (11.33 µg/kg fentanyl equivalents versus 12.56 µg/kg, p = 0.03). However, there were no differences with regards to opioid consumption postoperatively and no correlation between preoperative oxygen saturation and total opioid administration. There were no differences between groups with regards to the respiratory rate nadir, postoperative pain scores, or the incidence of opioid-related side effects. In contrast to other populations with chronic hypoxemia exposure, children with cyanotic CHD did not appear to have increased sensitivity to the effects of opioid medications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1170-1179
Number of pages10
JournalPediatric Cardiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Analgesia
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Cyanosis
  • Opioid sensitivity
  • Pediatric cardiac surgery


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