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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2016;20(1):45-51. doi: 10.3109/10903127.2015.1056893. Epub 2015 Aug 17.

Comparison of Fentanyl and Morphine in the Prehospital Treatment of Ischemic Type Chest Pain.


In the treatment of acute coronary syndromes, reduction of sympathetic stress and catecholamine release is an important therapeutic goal. One method used to achieve this goal is pain reduction through the systemic administration of analgesia. Historically, morphine has been the analgesic of choice in ischemic cardiac pain. This randomized double-blind controlled trial seeks to prove the utility of fentanyl as an alternate first-line analgesic for ischemic-type chest pain in the prehospital setting. Successive patients who were treated for suspected ischemic chest pain in the emergency medical services system were considered eligible. Once chest pain was confirmed, patients received oxygen, aspirin, and nitroglycerin therapy. If the ischemic-type chest pain continued the patient was randomized in a double-blinded fashion to treatment with either morphine or fentanyl. Pain scale scores, necessity for additional dosing, and rate of adverse events between the groups were assessed every 5 minutes and were compared using t-testing, Fisher's Exact test, or Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) where appropriate. The primary outcome of the study was incidence of hypotension and the secondary outcome was pain reduction as measured by the visual analog score and numeric rating score. A total of 207 patients were randomized with 187 patients included in the final analysis. Of the 187 patients, 99 were in the morphine group and 88 in the fentanyl group. No statistically significant difference between the two groups with respect to hypotension was found (morphine 5.1% vs. fentanyl 0%, p = 0.06). Baseline characteristics, necessity for additional dosing, and other adverse events between the two groups were not statistically different. There were no significant differences between the changes in visual analog scores and numeric rating scale scores for pain between the two groups (p = 0.16 and p = 0.15, respectively). This study supports that fentanyl and morphine are comparable in providing analgesia for ischemic-type chest pain. Fentanyl appears to be a safe and effective alternative to morphine for the management of chest pain in the prehospital setting.


acute pain; chest pain; fentanyl; morphine; prehospital

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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