Background: We theorized that modafinil, an atypical psychomotor stimulant, utilized to improve daytime somnolence in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, would improve functional recovery after general anesthesia by improving time to extubation, post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) length of stay and subjective recovery after general anesthesia. Methods: A double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study was performed. 102 patients with the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) were randomized to receive either 200 mg of modafinil or placebo before general anesthesia. The trial was terminated for futility. The primary outcome was PACU length of stay between groups. Secondary functional metrics of improved post-anesthesia recovery were compared between groups. Results: No difference between groups was found on the primary outcome of PACU length of stay (PACULOS). Emergence from general anesthesia was not significantly different when assessed by the time period between termination of volatile anesthetic and extubation. Similarly, no difference between groups was found in intraoperative bispectral index (BIS) values, postoperative pain scores or narcotic consumption (morphine equivalent units). In the post-anesthesia care unit, respiratory rate was increased and mean arterial pressure was lower in the modafinil group. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the use of single-dose preoperative modafinil may not improve functional recovery after general anesthesia in patients with the diagnosis of OSA. Further research is needed before use of atypical psychomotor stimulants in this surgical population.
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