Terbutaline inhalation suppresses fentanyl-induced coughing

Ping Wing Lui, Chung Hsi Hsing, Ya Churn Chu

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72 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To study the suppressive effect of inhalation of a selective β2-adrenergic bronchodilator terbutaline, and the effect of an intravenous anticholinergic, atropine, on fentanyl-induced coughing. Methods: We studied 131 ASA class I patients, aged 16-45 yr, scheduled for elective surgery, randomized into four groups. Fifteen minutes before bolus fentanyl (5 μg · kg-1, iv), patients inhaled either normal saline (4 ml; Group 1, n = 30) or terbutaline (5 mg in 2 ml normal saline; Group 2, n = 34) via a jet nebulizer. After inhalation of normal saline, patients in Group 3 (n = 32) received sterile water iv instead of fentanyl. Patients in Group 4 (n = 35) were pretreated with atropine (0.01 mg · kg-1, iv) 10 min before iv fentanyl bolus. The onset, frequency and intensity of cough were observed immediately by an anaesthetist blinded to the study. Results: The cough frequency was higher in Groups 1 (43%) and 4 (46%) than in Groups 2 (3%) and 3 (0%) (P < 0.05). The onset time and intensity of cough showed no difference among groups. No truncal rigidity was observed in patients receiving fentanyl bolus iv. The blood pressure, heart rate, and peripheral oxygen saturation did not change in Groups 1, 2, and 3, while patients in Group 4 showed an increase in heart rate (25.5 ± 15.2%). Conclusions: The inhalation of a selective β2-adrenergic bronchodilator, terbutaline, effectively inhibited fentanyl-induced cough, whereas atropine, an antimuscarinic vagolytic, had no efficacy. Our results suggest that bronchoconstriction may underlie the mechanism on fentanyl-induced cough.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1216-1219
Number of pages4
JournalCanadian Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • analgesics: fentanyl
  • cough
  • parasympathetic nervous system: atropine
  • sympathetic nervous system: beta-adrenergic agonists, terbutaline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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