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Scand J Gastroenterol. 2015;50(11):1331-8. doi: 10.3109/00365521.2015.1054423. Epub 2015 Jun 10.

Opioid-induced constipation.

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Department of Clinical Oncology and Chemotherapy, Nagoya University Hospital , Nagoya , Japan.


Opioid-induced constipation (OIC) is a very troublesome, difficult to manage and a nearly universal complication of chronic opioid use to control pain associated with advanced illness. Some studies have reported that OIC is so intolerable in some patients that they skip their opioid medications and bear pain instead of OIC. Laxatives have commonly been used as a prophylaxis and treatment of OIC but they are frequently ineffective because the commonly available laxatives do not target the underlying mechanism of OIC, which is the blockade of peripheral mu-receptors. Recently, there have been a number of advances in the treatment of OIC, which any physician involved with opioid-prescribing discipline should be aware of. This review will update the new options and strategies available for treating OIC along with the relevant clinical trials. Finally, this review also provides a recommendation on the preferred way to approach a patient with OIC in the modern era as well as highlight on the importance of doctor-patient communication in this setting.


Doctor–patient communication; laxatives; linaclotide; lubiprostone; opioid-induced-constipation; opioids; opioid–naloxone combination; peripherally acting mu-opioid receptor antagonists; tapentadol

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