Rapid opioid detoxification during
general anesthesia: a review of 20 patients

Gold CG, Cullen DJ, Gonzales S, Houtmeyers D, Dwyer MJ
Department of Anesthesiology
and the
St. Elizabeth's Comprehensive Addiction Program,
St. Elizabeth's Medical Center,
Boston, Massachusetts 02135-2997, USA.
Anesthesiology 1999 Dec; 91(6):1639-47


BACKGROUND: Opioid addiction therapy includes successful detoxification, rehabilitation, and sometimes methadone maintenance. However, the patient may have physical, mental, and emotional pain while trying to achieve abstinence. A new detoxification technique that incorporates general anesthesia uses a high-dose opioid antagonist to compress detoxification to within 6 h while avoiding the withdrawal. METHODS: After Institutional Review Board approval and detailed informed consent, 20 patients, American Society of Anesthesiologists status I-II, addicted to various opioids underwent anesthesia-assisted rapid opioid detoxification. After baseline hemodynamics and withdrawal scores were obtained, anesthesia was induced. After testing with 0.4 mg intravenous naloxone, 4 mg nalmefene, was infused over 2 to 3 h. After emergence, severity of withdrawal was scored before and after administration of 0.4 mg intravenous naloxone. After 24 h, patients began outpatient follow-up treatment while taking oral naltrexone. RESULTS: All 20 patients were successfully detoxified with no adverse anesthetic events. After the first post-treatment test dose of 0.4 mg naloxone, 13 of 20 patients had no signs of withdrawal and hemodynamic changes were minimal. Withdrawal scores were always very low and similar before and after detoxification. Three of 17 patients (18%) available for follow-up have remained abstinent from opioids since treatment (< or = 18 months). Four other patients are clean after brief relapses. CONCLUSIONS: Anesthesia-assisted opioid detoxification is an alternative to conventional detoxification.
Poppy Tea
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Methadone in the UK
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Ultra-rapid opiate detoxification

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