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Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2014 Dec 9;134(23-24):2272-5. doi: 10.4045/tidsskr.14.0359. eCollection 2014 Dec 9.

[Morphine in the treatment of acute pulmonary oedema].

[Article in Norwegian]

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Det medisinske fakultet Universitetet i Oslo.
Hjerteklinikken Oslo universitetssykehus, UllevÄl.



Morphine is still used in Norway and the rest of Europe as part of the treatment for pulmonary oedema, but the scientific basis for this is tenuous. In this article we assess the literature that supports and challenges the use of morphine in cases of pulmonary oedema.


The article is based on a literature search in Medline and EMBASE and on the articles which form the basis of Norwegian and international guidelines.


Morphine has been used for several decades in cases of pulmonary oedema due to the anxiolytic and vasodilatory properties of the drug. Vasodilation caused by morphine has been described in other patient groups, but there is little evidence in the literature to suggest that morphine causes vasodilation in patients with pulmonary oedema. Non-specific depression of the central nervous system is probably the most significant factor for the changes in haemodynamics in pulmonary oedema. Retrospective studies have shown both negative and neutral effects in acute decompensated heart failure. There are no reliable clinical studies that document better prognosis from the use of morphine.


Based on the available studies, the possibility cannot be excluded that the use of morphine results in increased mortality among patients with acute pulmonary oedema. In addition, there is little evidence that the vasodilatory properties of morphine are of any significance for this condition. The benefits and risks of using morphine in cases of acute pulmonary oedema are still unclear, but so far there is little evidence to support the beneficial use of the drug.

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