Population Pharmacokinetics of Single Bolus Dose Fentanyl in Obese Children

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Anesthesia and Analgesia


BACKGROUND: Childhood obesity is a significant problem. Obesity may alter the pharmacokinetics (PKs) of medications. Fentanyl is commonly used for procedural sedation, but there is a paucity of bolus dose fentanyl PK data in obese children. Better understanding of fentanyl PK in obese children would facilitate dosing recommendations. We conducted a study involving children with and without obesity to assess the potential differences in bolus dose fentanyl PK between the 2 groups.

METHODS: We enrolled children 2 to 12 years of age with and without obesity, defined as >95th percentile body mass index (BMI) for age and sex, undergoing elective tonsillectomy ± adenoidectomy. After induction, subjects had 2 intravenous (IV) lines placed in 2 different extremities: 1 for medications and IV fluids and 1 for obtaining blood aliquots for fentanyl concentration analysis. After administration of 1 mcg/kg of fentanyl based on total body weight (TBW), blood sample collections for fentanyl concentration analysis were attempted at 5, 15, 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes. Five-minute fentanyl concentrations were compared between obese and nonobese cohorts. Population PK analysis to examine the differences between obese and nonobese children was performed and included various body size descriptors, such as TBW, BMI, and fat-free mass (FFM), to examine their influence on model parameters.

RESULTS: Half of the 30 subjects were obese. Mean fentanyl concentrations at 5 minutes were 0.53 ng/mL for the nonobese group and 0.88 ng/mL for the obese group, difference 0.35 ng/mL (95% CI, 0.08-0.61 ng/mL; P = .01). Population PK analysis showed that FFM was a significant covariate for the central volume of distribution. The potential clinical effect of an IV bolus dose of fentanyl based on TBW versus FFM in an obese child was assessed in a simulation using our model. 1 mcg/kg fentanyl dose based on TBW resulted in an approximately 60% higher peak fentanyl effect site concentration than dosing based on FFM.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data demonstrated higher peak plasma fentanyl concentrations in obese compared to nonobese subjects. Population PK analysis found that FFM was a significant covariate for the central volume of distribution. Model simulation showed dosing of fentanyl in obese children based on TBW resulted in significantly higher peak concentrations than dosing based on FFM. Based on this modeling and the known concentration-effect relationship between fentanyl and adverse effects, our results suggest that bolus dosing of fentanyl in obese children should be based on FFM rather than TBW, particularly for procedures of short duration.