Acute administration of remifentanil may lead to opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH). Studies in mice suggest that OIH is mediated by impaired anionic homeostasis in spinal lamina I neurons due to a down-regulation of the K +-Cl − co-transporter KCC2, which was reverted using acetazolamide (ACTZ), a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. We propose that ACTZ prevents remifentanil-mediated OIH in humans.
We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial between December 2016 and September 2018. Patients were randomly allocated to receive ACTZ (250 mg of ACTZ 2 h before surgery) or placebo. To detect hyperalgesia, mechanical pain threshold (MPT) were measured before and after surgery using hand-held von Frey filaments in the forearm. Anesthesia was maintained with remifentanil at a target effect site of 4.5 ± 0.5 ng/mL, and sevoflurane at an end-tidal concentration of 0.8 MAC corrected for age.
In total, 47 patients completed the study. Both groups were comparable in the baseline characteristics and intraoperative variables. Baseline MPT were similar in both groups. However, MPT in the forearm significantly diminished in the time in both groups. Finally, postoperative pain and morphine consumption were similar between groups.