Fentanyl Induced Chest Wall Rigidity


Chest wall rigidity in two infants after low-dose fentanyl [PubMed Abstract]
Dewhirst E1, Naguib A, Tobias JD.
Pediatr Emerg Care. 2012 May;28(5):465-8. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3182535a2a.
Since its introduction into clinical practice, it has been known that fentanyl and other synthetic opioids may cause skeletal muscle rigidity. Involvement of the respiratory musculature, laryngeal structures, or the chest wall may impair ventilation, resulting in hypercarbia and hypoxemia. Although most common with the rapid administration of large doses, this rare adverse effect may occur with small doses especially in neonates and infants. We present 2 infants who developed chest wall rigidity, requiring the administration of neuromuscular blocking agents and controlled ventilation after analgesic doses of fentanyl. Previous reports regarding chest wall rigidity after the administration of low-dose fentanyl in infants and children are reviewed, the pathogenesis of the disorder is discussed, and treatment options offered.

Fentanyl-induced chest wall rigidity [PubMed Abstract] .
Coruh B1, Tonelli MR, Park DR.
Chest. 2013 Apr;143(4):1145-6. doi: 10.1378/chest.12-2131.
Fentanyl and other opiates used in procedural sedation and analgesia are associated with several well-known complications. We report the case of a man who developed the uncommon complication of chest wall rigidity and ineffective spontaneous ventilation following the administration of fentanyl during an elective bronchoscopy. His ventilation was assisted and the condition was reversed with naloxone. Although this complication is better described in pediatric patients and with anesthetic doses, chest wall rigidity can occur with analgesic doses of fentanyl and related compounds. Management includes ventilatory support and reversal with either naloxone or a short-acting neuromuscular blocking agent. This reaction does not appear to be a contraindication to future use of fentanyl or related compounds. Chest wall rigidity causing respiratory compromise should be readily recognized and treated by bronchoscopists.


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