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Anesth Analg. 1997 Mar;84(3):509-14.

Evaluation of morphine versus fentanyl for postoperative analgesia after ambulatory surgical procedures.

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Toronto Hospital, Western Division, Ontario, Canada.


Adequate postoperative analgesia without side effects is necessary to facilitate same-day discharge of ambulatory patients after ambulatory surgery. This study compared the use of intravenous morphine and fentanyl after painful ambulatory procedures with respect to analgesic efficacy, the incidence of side effects, and impact on the patient's readiness for discharge. Fifty-eight patients undergoing ambulatory surgery were prospectively randomized to receive morphine or fentanyl for postoperative analgesia and studied in double-blind fashion. The drugs were administered in equipotent doses in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) and were titrated against pain scores until a visual analog score < 40 mm was achieved and the patient was satisfied with the level of analgesia. In the ambulatory surgical unit, oral analgesia was available. Pain scores, amount of analgesia used, the incidence of side-effects (nausea and vomiting, sedation and dizziness), the times to achieve recovery milestones, and fitness for discharge were studied. Equal amounts of morphine and fentanyl were used in the PACU, but pain scores were higher in the fentanyl group in the ambulatory surgical unit. In addition, the fentanyl group required more oral analgesia than the morphine group (69% vs 17%; P < 0.0002). The incidence of in-hospital side effects was similar. However, the morphine group had a more frequent incidence of postdischarge nausea and vomiting than the fentanyl group (59% vs 24%; P < 0.016). There was no significant difference in the duration of stay in the PACU (morphine vs fentanyl, 69 +/- 15 min vs 71 +/- 20 min), the times to achieve recovery milestones, and fitness for discharge (morphine vs fentanyl, 136 +/- 41 min vs 132 +/- 40 min). The short duration of fentanyl was not associated with faster discharge times; most patients required additional analgesia to control pain. Morphine produced a better quality of analgesia but was associated with an increased incidence of nausea and vomiting, the majority of which occurred after discharge.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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