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Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 1992 Oct-Dec;9(4):317-26.

Analgesia in children with sickle cell crisis: comparison of intermittent opioids vs. continuous intravenous infusion of morphine and placebo-controlled study of oxygen inhalation.

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Department of Pediatrics, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The objectives of the study were to compare the efficacy and safety of a continuous infusion (CIV) of morphine and intermittent parenteral opioids (IPO) in children with sickle cell vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs); to determine whether 50% oxygen administration through a face mask can reduce the duration of severe pain in patients receiving CIV morphine; and to measure morphine concentration at steady state for pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic analysis in patients receiving CIV morphine. The study was designed as a prospective, controlled, "before-and-after" evaluation of two different analgesic regimens. For patients receiving CIV morphine, there was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of O2 vs. air. The patients were 66 children with sickle cell disease, 3-18 years old, requiring opioid therapy for severe VOC (32 patients in phase A, 34 in phase B). The analgesic regimens were as follows: phase A: meperidine, morphine, or codeine IM or IV bolus every 3 or 4 hours; phase B: morphine sulfate, loading dose 0.15 mg followed by CIV 0.04 mg/kg/hr. The infusion rate was adjusted every 8 hours according to pain and/or symptoms of opioid toxicity. Pain assessment was by behavioral observation (BPS). In terms of results, the mean opioid dose (morphine equivalent) was similar in both groups (0.032 +/- 0.020 mg/kg/hr in phase A and 0.035 +/- 0.011 in phase B). However, the duration of severe pain was significantly shorter in phase B (0.9 +/- 1.0 days) than in phase A (2.0 +/- 1.8 days). No severe opioid toxicity was observed in either group. Oxygen did not shorten the duration of severe pain compared to the placebo group (0.94 +/- 1.08 and 0.95 +/- 1.19 days, respectively) nor did it prevent the appearance of new pain sites. Pharmacokinetic analysis was performed in 24 patients of phase B. Total body clearance (TBC) of morphine was greater in children before puberty than after (40.4 +/- 10 vs. 28 +/- 11 mL/kg/min; p < 0.05). In conclusion, in children with severe VOCs, continuous infusion of morphine provides better analgesia than intermittent opioid therapy. Fifty percent oxygen inhalation had no effect on the duration of pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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