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Am Surg. 1995 Dec;61(12):1079-83.

Nonopioid analgesics shorten the duration of postoperative ileus.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226, USA.


Morphine inhibits propagating and stimulates nonpropagating colon contractions in monkeys and humans. The use of morphine or other opioids that inhibit propulsive contractions prolongs postoperative ileus. In contrast, ketorolac tromethamine, a nonsteroidal analgesic, has no effect on colon contractions in monkeys. In 14 patients having elective abdominal operations, bipolar electrodes were implanted on the right (n = 13) and left (n = 10) colon. Group A (n = 8) received ketorolac, 30 mg IM q6h, for pain relief. Group B (n = 6) needed supplemental morphine, 2-10 mg IV or IM, plus ketorolac to control their pain. Myoelectric activity was recorded from each subject on postop Days 1-5 and analyzed by computer for electrical control activity (ECA), short and long electrical response activity (ERA), and propagation of long ERA. There was a difference between the two groups in return of propagated long ERA bursts that correlated with clinical recovery from postoperative ileus. Postoperative analgesia with ketorolac resulted in faster resolution of ileus compared to morphine plus ketorolac because opioid-induced motor abnormalities in the colon were avoided.

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