Pholcodine is an opioid anti-tussive (ie. cough suppressant). It is a common component of over-the-counter cough medications. However it has a special significant to anesthesiologists in relation to anaphylaxis risk, particularly related to neuromuscular agents.
Florvaag et al's 2009 review covers this issue very comprehensively. Earlier 2006 research from Florvaag et al attempting to explain some of the regional variability in anaphylaxis rates showed that exposure to pholcodine causes an 60-105 times increase in IgE levels!
Countries where pholcodine use is common (eg Norway) seem to have experienced higher levels of anaphylaxis to neuromuscular blocking agents than countries where it is not common (eg Sweden). In fact, in Norway rocuronium anaphylaxis was such a problem that its use was restricted to modified rapid sequence inductions. A pholcodine containing cough syrup has been withdrawn from the market in Norway because of this (and levels of sensitisation seem to be dropping although it is still too early to draw conclusions). It will be interesting to see if there are other compounds that have a similar effect on IgE sensitisation and whether other countries will consider withdrawing pholcodine products.
In addition to the two articles from Florvaag that specifically look at Pholcodine and it's effects, there is also an interesting review looking at recent insights into anaphylaxis in the anaesthetic setting from Dewachter and team.summary
...and 1 more note
A collection of landmark papers relevant to anaesthesia and anesthesiology.
Generally, these papers are practice changing and hold current, ongoing significance beyond their historical importance.
This is a dynamic and changing document that will be updated, pruned and added to as appropriate. Many of these papers have free full-text provided by the publisher because of their significance.summary
There has been some observational evidence that a greater depth of anesthesia, as measured by BIS, may be associated with an increase in post-operative mortality. In particular the association of the "triple low state" (low BIS, low volatile-ET, low MAP) with post-operative mortality is worrying.
Completion of the Balanced Anaesthesia Study Group’s large RCT looking at this issue however brings us as close to a final word as we may expect. Short et al. (2019) showed no difference in 1-year mortality for older patients undergoing major surgery, whether they received a deep (BIS target 35) or light (BIS target 50) general anaesthetic.
It is likely that earlier observational studies were showing the consequences of intraoperative hypotension resulting from anaesthetic depth, rather than anaesthetic depth itself.summary