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Mayo Clin Proc. 2012 Mar;87(3):255-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2011.11.014.

Use of methylnaltrexone for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation in critical care patients.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Charing Cross Hospital, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Gastrointestinal dysmotility and constipation are common problems in critical care patients. The majority of critical care patients are treated with opioids, which inhibit gastrointestinal (GI) motility and lead to adverse outcomes. We reasoned that methylnaltrexone (MNTX), a peripheral opioid antagonist approved for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation in patients with advanced illness receiving palliative care when response to laxative therapy has not been sufficient, could improve GI function in critically ill patients. The present study included all patients in our intensive care unit who required rescue medication for GI stasis during the 10-week period from September 1 to November 15, 2009. We compared conventional rescue therapy with subcutaneous MNTX. We performed a retrospective chart review of the 88 nonsurgical critical care patients receiving fentanyl infusions, 15 (17%) of whom met the criteria of absence of laxation within 72 hours of intensive care unit admission despite treatment with senna and sodium docusate. Eight of these 15 patients subsequently received conventional rescue therapy (combination of sodium picosulfate [5 mg] and 2 glycerin suppositories [4-g mold]), and 7 patients received MNTX (subcutaneous injection, 0.15 mg/kg). Laxation occurred within 24 hours in 6 of the 7 MNTX patients (86%) but in none of the 8 patients receiving conventional rescue therapy (P=.001). The median difference in time to laxation between the 2 groups was 3.5 days (P<.001). Although not statistically significant, all 7 patients treated with MNTX, but only 4 of 8 (50%) who received conventional rescue therapy, progressed to full target enteral feeding (P=.08). Intensive care unit mortality was 2 of 7 MNTX patients (29%) vs 4 of 8 (50%) in the standard therapy group (P=.61). We hypothesize that MNTX may play an important role in restoration of bowel function in critically ill patients.

Copyright © 2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22386181
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3498420
Free PMC Article

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