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Anesth Analg. 2004 Mar;98(3):714-22, table of contents.

Dextromethorphan-associated epidural patient-controlled analgesia provides better pain- and analgesics-sparing effects than dextromethorphan-associated intravenous patient-controlled analgesia after bone-malignancy resection: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded study.

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  • 1Postanesthesia Care Unit, the Acute Pain Service, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and the Sackler Faculty Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Pain after bone malignancy surgery is intense and requires large amounts of analgesics. The augmented antinociceptive effects of dextromethorphan (DM), a N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, were demonstrated previously. We assessed the use of postoperative patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) or IV patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) in patients undergoing surgery for bone malignancy under standardized combined general and epidural anesthesia with or without DM. Patients (n = 120) were randomly allocated to receive PCEA (ropivacaine 3.2 mg plus fentanyl 8 microg/dose) or IV-PCA (morphine 2 mg/dose) postoperatively, starting at subjective visual analog scale pain intensity >or=4 of 10 for up to 96 h. Placebo or DM 90 mg orally (30 patients/group/set) was given in a double-blinded manner before surgery and for 2 days afterwards. Diclofenac 75 mg IM was available as a rescue drug. DM patients used PCA and rated their pain >50% less than their placebo counterparts in each set, especially during the first 2 postoperative days (P < 0.01). Hourly and overall maximal pain intensity among PCEA patients was approximately 50% less than in the IV-PCA set (P < 0.01). Diclofenac was used 42% less (P < 0.01) by the PCA-DM patients compared with their placebo counterparts. Seven PCEA-DM and 11 IV-PCA-DM individuals reported having side effects compared with 44 in the PCEA-placebo and the IV-PCA-placebo groups (P < 0.01). Time to first ambulation was similar with both analgesia techniques but shorter among the DM-treated patients compared with the placebo recipients (1.5 +/- 0.8 versus 2.1 +/- 1.1 days, P = 0.02). Thus, DM afforded better pain control and reduced the demand for analgesics, augmented the PCEA effect versus IV-PCA, and was associated with minimal untoward effects in each analgesia set. DM patients ambulated earlier than placebo recipients.


Patients undergoing bone-malignancy surgery under combined general and epidural anesthesia received randomly patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) or IV patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) postoperatively and dextromethorphan (DM) 90 mg or placebo double-blindly for 3 days (n = 30/group/set). The DM effect was recorded with minimal untoward effects: it afforded better pain control and reduced the demand for analgesics compared with the placebo, especially when associated with PCEA. DM patients ambulated earlier than placebo recipients.

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