Generic Name: remifentanil (rem i FEN ta nil)
Brand Name: Ultiva
Medically reviewed on August 16, 2017
What is remifentanil?
Remifentanil is an opioid medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic.
Remifentanil is used to treat or prevent pain after surgery or other medical procedure.
Remifentanil may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Remifentanil can slow or stop your breathing, and may be habit-forming. MISUSE OF THIS MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH.
Before taking this medicine
To make sure remifentanil is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
breathing problems or lung disease;
drug or alcohol addiction;
problems with your gallbladder or pancreas; or
Some medicines can interact with remifentanil and cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Be sure your doctor knows if you also take stimulant medicine, herbal products, or medicine for depression, mental illness, Parkinson's disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting. Ask your doctor before making any changes in how or when you take your medications.
If you receive remifentanil while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
It is not known whether remifentanil passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Many other opioid medicines can pass into breast milk and cause drowsiness or breathing problems in a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding.
How is remifentanil given?
Remifentanil is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection as part of the anesthesia given for your surgery or medical procedure.
Remifentanil is usually given slowly through an IV infusion connected to pump that will release the correct dose of the medication to provide continuous pain relief during and after your surgery.
Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and other vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving remifentanil.
You may be given other pain medications to use after your remifentanil treatment is discontinued.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Since remifentanil is given as needed by a healthcare professional for only a short time, you are not likely to be on a dosing schedule.
What happens if I overdose?
Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.
What should I avoid after receiving remifentanil?
Remifentanil can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. You should not plan on driving or doing anything that requires you to be awake and alert right after you are treated with this medication. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.
Remifentanil side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Like other opioid medicines, remifentanil can slow your breathing. Death may occur if breathing becomes too weak.
Your caregivers will watch for any side effects you have, which may clear up within minutes after stopping the remifentanil infusion or decreasing the dose:
weak or shallow breathing;
fast or slow heart rate;
rigid muscles; or
severe weakness, feeling light-headed or fainting.
Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults and those who are overweight, malnourished, or debilitated.
Common side effects may include:
slow heart rate; or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect remifentanil?
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 4.01.
More about remifentanil
- Remifentanil Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
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- Drug class: narcotic analgesics
Other brands: Ultiva
- Remifentanil Hydrochloride (AHFS Monograph)
- Remifentanil Injection (FDA)
- Remifentanil (Wolters Kluwer)