The effects of remifentanil on epileptiform discharges during intraoperative electrocorticography in patients undergoing epilepsy Surgery

C. Thomas Wass, Robert E. Grady, A. James Fessler, Gregory D. Cascino, Leonard Lozada, Perry S. Bechtle, W. Richard Marsh, Frank W. Sharbrough, Darrell R. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Purpose: High-dose i.v. opioids (e.g., alfentanil, 50 μg/kg bolus) are known to increase the intraoperative reading of epileptiform activity during epilepsy surgery (ES), thereby facilitating localization of the epileptogenic zone (i.e., the site of ictal onset and initial seizure propagation). However, this phenomenon has not been studied with remifentanil (i.e., a novel ultra-short acting opioid). The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effect of remifentanil on electrocorticography (ECoG) during ES. Methods: After Institutional Review Board approval, 25 adult patients undergoing elective ECoG-guided anterior temporal corticectomy were enrolled. At the time of ECoG, anesthesia consisted of inhaled isoflurane ≤0.1% (end-tidal) in 50% N2O, and i.v. fentanyl, 2 μg/kg/h and vecuronium. Patients were maintained at normocapnia and normoxia during ECoG. After acquisition of baseline ECoG, bolus remifentanil, 2.5 μg/kg i.v., was administered. The number of epileptiform spikes occurring 5 min before and after this bolus were compared by using a one-sided sign test; p values ≤0.05 were considered statistically significant. Results: When compared with baseline ECoG, bolus i.v. remifentanil significantly increased the frequency of single spikes or repetitive spike bursts in the epileptogenic zone while suppressing activity in surrounding normal brain. Conclusions: During ES, remifentanil enhanced epileptiform activity during intraoperative ECoG. Such observations facilitate localization of the epileptogenic zone while minimizing resection of nonepileptogenic eloquent brain tissue. Although not specifically evaluated in this study, we speculate that remifentanil's short elimination half-life will facilitate neurologic function testing immediately after ES. Should this be the case, we envision remifentanil has the potential to supplant other opioids (e.g., alfentanil) during ECoG-guided ES.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1340-1344
Number of pages5
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2001


  • Amygdalohippocampectomy
  • Electrocorticography
  • Epilepsy surgery
  • Opioids
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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