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Sufentanil Side Effects

For the Consumer

Applies to sufentanil: parenteral injection

Side effects include:

Respiratory depression, skeletal muscle rigidity (e.g., truncal muscles, neck, extremities).

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to sufentanil: compounding powder, injectable solution


Respiratory side effects including respiratory depression, apnea, and bronchospasm have been reported frequently.[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects including hypotension, hypertension, bradycardia, cardiac arrest, and arrhythmias have been reported infrequently.[Ref]


Musculoskeletal side effects including skeletal muscle rigidity, particularly of the truncal muscles, intraoperative muscle movement, and chest wall rigidity have been reported frequently.[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects including nausea and vomiting have been reported.[Ref]


Genitourinary side effects including urinary retention have been reported commonly.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects including pruritus and erythema have been reported.[Ref]


General side effects including chills and somnolence have been reported.[Ref]


1. Matteo RS, Schwartz AE, Ornstein E, Young WL, Chang WJ "Pharmacokinetics of sufentanil in the elderly surgical patient." Can J Anaesth 37 (1990): 852-6

2. Hays RL, Palmer CM "Respiratory depression after intrathecal sufentanil during labor." Anesthesiology 81 (1994): 511-2

3. Clotz MA, Nahata MC "Clinical uses of fentanyl, sufentanil, and alfentanil." Clin Pharm 10 (1991): 581-93

4. Cohen SE, Labaille T, Benhamou D, Levron JC "Respiratory effects of epidural sufentanil after cesarean section." Anesth Analg 74 (1992): 677-82

5. Blackburn C "Respiratory arrest after epidural sufentanil." Anaesthesia 42 (1987): 665-6

6. Wolff AP, Hasenbos MA, Liem TH, Gielen MJ "Accidental overdose of epidural bupivacaine and sufentanil." Reg Anesth 17 (1992): 237-8

7. "Product Information. Sufenta (sufentanil)." Janssen Pharmaceutica, Titusville, NJ.

8. Stienstra R, Pannekoek BJ "Respiratory arrest following extradural sufentanil." Anaesthesia 48 (1993): 1055-6

9. Russell R, Reynolds F "Respiratory arrest following extradural sufentanil." Anaesthesia 49 (1994): 446-7

10. Dangelo R, Anderson MT, Philip J, Eisenach JC "Intrathecal sufentanil compared to epidural bupivacaine for labor analgesia." Anesthesiology 80 (1994): 1209-15

11. Sharpe MD, Dobkowski WB, Murkin JM, Klein G, Guiraudon G, Yee R "The electrophysiologic effects of volatile anesthetics and sufentanil on the normal atrioventricular conduction system and accessory pathways in wolff-parkinson-white syndrome." Anesthesiology 80 (1994): 63-70

12. Newman LM, Patel RV, Krolick T, Ivankovich AD "Muscular spasm in the lower limbs of laboring patients after intrathecal administration of epinephrine and sufentanil." Anesthesiology 80 (1994): 468-71

13. Gust R, Bohrer H "Stiff-man syndrome associated with continous sufentanil administration." Anaesthesia 50 (1995): 575

14. Bowdle TA, Rooke GA "Postoperative myoclonus and rigidity after anesthesia with opioids." Anesth Analg 78 (1994): 783-6

15. Wilder-Smith CH, Wilder-Smith OH, Farschtschian M, Naji P "Epidural droperidol reduces the side effects and duration of analgesia of epidural sufentanil." Anesth Analg 79 (1994): 98-104

16. Russell R, Reynolds F "Epidural infusions for nulliparous women in labour. A randomised double-blind comparison of fentanyl/bupivacaine and sufentanil/bupivacaine." Anaesthesia 48 (1993): 856-61

17. Tuman KJ, Spiess BD, Wong CA, Ivankovich AD "Sufentanil-midazolam anesthesia in malignant hyperthermia." Anesth Analg 67 (1988): 405-8

18. Grieco WM, Norris MC, Leighton BL, Arkoosh VA, Huffnagle HJ, Honet JE, Costello D "Intrathecal sufentanil labor analgesia - the effects of adding morphine or epinephrine." Anesth Analg 77 (1993): 1149-54

It is possible that some side effects of sufentanil may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

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