Open Access Research article

Intubating conditions and side effects of propofol, remifentanil and sevoflurane compared with propofol, remifentanil and rocuronium: a randomised, prospective, clinical trial

Thomas Mencke1*, Refa Maria Jacobs1, Susann Machmueller1, Martin Sauer1, Christine Heidecke2, Anja Kallert2, Hans Wilhelm Pau2, Gabriele Noeldge-Schomburg1 and Attila Ovari2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, University of Rostock, Schillingallee 35, Rostock 18057, Germany

2 Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Anesthesiology 2014, 14:39  doi:10.1186/1471-2253-14-39

Published: 22 May 2014



Tracheal intubation without muscle relaxants is usually performed with remifentanil and propofol or sevoflurane. Remifentanil 1.0 to 4.0 μg·kg-1 and propofol 2.0-3.0 mg·kg-1 or sevoflurane up to 8.0 Vol% provide acceptable, i.e. excellent or good intubating conditions. We hypothesized that sevoflurane 1.0 MAC would provide acceptable intubating conditions when combined with propofol and remifentanil.


Eighty-three patients to be intubated were randomised to two groups. The SEVO group received propofol 1.5 mg kg-1, remifentanil 0.30 μg kg min-1 and sevoflurane 1.0 MAC; the MR group received the same doses of propofol and remifentanil plus rocuronium 0.45 mg kg-1. We evaluated intubation and extubation conditions, mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR) and bispectral index (BIS). The vocal cords were examined for injury by videolaryngoscopy before and 24 hours after surgery.


Acceptable intubating conditions were seen more frequently with rocuronium than with sevoflurane: 97% versus 82%; p = 0.03; the subscore for vocal cords was comparable: 100% versus 98%. MAP before intubation decreased significantly compared with the MAP at baseline to the same extent in both groups; ephedrine IV was given in 15 (SEVO) versus 16 (MR) patients; p = 0.93. BIS at tracheal intubation was 27 (13-65) in the SEVO group, 29 (14-62) in the MR group; p = 0.07. Vocal cord injuries (oedema, haematoma) were similar: 4 patients in each group.


Overall intubating conditions were better when rocuronium was used; the subscore for vocal cords was comparable. The incidence of side effects was the same in the two groups.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.Gov: NCT 01591031.

Sevoflurane; Propofol; Remifentanil; Neuromuscular block; Intubating conditions; Laryngeal injury