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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 1997 Jan;41(1 Pt 1):12-7.

Long-term intrathecal infusion of morphine in the home care of patients with advanced cancer.

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  • 1Montpellier Cancer Institute Val d'Aurelle, France.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Fear of infections and other complications has made many clinicians avoid intrathecal application of morphine in chronic cancer pain. However, recent comparative studies show that, in long-term treatment, intrathecal morphine administration may give a more satisfactory pain relief with lower doses of morphine and fewer side-effects than epidural administration. In Montpellier Cancer Institute, first cancer pain patients received long-term intrathecal morphine as early as in 1979, and since then more than 400 patients have been treated.

METHODS:

In 1991-1994, 50 patients having refractory cancer pain were treated with a continuous intrathecal infusion of morphine using an external pump with patient-controlled boluses. In this retrospective study, the outcome of these 5602 days of morphine therapy will be analysed. The treatment consisted of a lateral puncture technique, strictly aseptic conditions during catheter insertion and changes of pump reservoirs, and effective prevention of side-effects.

RESULTS:

The average duration of intrathecal infusion was 142 (7-584) days. The mean starting dose, 2.5 (0.4-8.3) mg/day, increased to a mean final dose of 9.2 (1-94) mg/day, the average dose being 5.4 (1-23) mg/day. During the treatment period, no clinically detectable infections and no respiratory depression occurred. Leakage of cerebrospinal fluid followed by post-spinal headache occurred in only 6 patients who received a temporary external catheter: the lateral lumbar puncture technique seemed to protect from this complication in long-term treatment. The patients stayed at home, coming to agreed control visits only at 4-6 week intervals, using a telephone-telefax service for emergencies.

CONCLUSIONS:

Long-term intrathecal morphine infusion seems to provide satisfactory analgesia, few side-effects and a high degree of patient autonomy.

PMID:
9061109
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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