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Generic Name: remifentanil (rem i FEN ta nil)
Brand Name: Ultiva
Dosage Forms: intravenous powder for injection (1 mg; 2 mg; 5 mg); intravenous solution (50 mcg/mL-NaCl 0.9%)

Medically reviewed by on Oct 28, 2019. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is remifentanil?

Remifentanil is an opioid medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic.

Remifentanil is used to treat or prevent pain during and after surgery or other medical procedures.

Remifentanil may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Remifentanil can slow or stop your breathing, and may be habit-forming. MISUSE OF remifentanil CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH.

Before taking this medicine

You should not be treated with remifentanil if you are allergic to it.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Be sure your doctor knows if you also take stimulant medicine, opioid medicine, herbal products, or medicine for depression, mental illness, Parkinson's disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting. These medicines may interact with remifentanil and cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome.

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 breastfeeding.

How is remifentanil given?

Remifentanil is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Remifentanil is usually given slowly through an 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.

Remifentanil can slow or stop your breathing, and may be habit-forming. MISUSE OF remifentanil CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH.

You may be given other pain medications to use after your remifentanil treatment is discontinued. Keep using these medicines for as long as your doctor has prescribed.

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?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, muscle weakness, slow heartbeats, pinpoint pupils, fainting, blue lips, cold and clammy skin, noisy breathing, very slow breathing, or coma.

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 remifentanil. 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, such as:

  • noisy breathing, sighing, shallow breathing, breathing that stops during sleep;

  • fast or slow heart rate;

  • stiff 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 breathing;

  • slow heart rate;

  • muscle stiffness; or

  • feeling light-headed.

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.

What other drugs will affect remifentanil?

Tell your doctor if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, and tranylcypromine.

Other drugs may affect remifentanil, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

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.