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Pain. 1997 Sep;72(3):333-46.

Comparative efficacy of patient-controlled administration of morphine, hydromorphone, or sufentanil for the treatment of oral mucositis pain following bone marrow transplantation.

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98104, USA.


A total of 119 bone marrow transplant patients suffering from oral mucositis pain were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, parallel-group trial comparing the efficacy of patient-controlled analgesia with morphine, hydromorphone and sufentanil. Patient ratings of pain and side-effects on visual analog scales were gathered daily from the start of patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) therapy until the discontinuation of opioid treatment either because of resolution of oral mucositis pain, intolerable side-effects, inadequate pain control, or complications related to transplantation. Of the 119 enrolled subjects, 100 met the evaluable criteria of developing oral mucositis and remaining on the study for at least 2 days. Multivariate analysis of the outcome measures indicated that the analgesia achieved in all three opioid groups was nearly equivalent, while measures of side-effects, especially for the combination of sedation, sleep and mood disturbances, were statistically lower in the morphine group than in hydromorphone or sufentanil groups. Patients in the hydromorphone group exhibited the most variability in pain control. Event analysis also indicated significant differences in time to treatment failure between the three groups, with the morphine arm exhibiting clear superiority. The proportion of patients discontinued because of inadequate pain relief was much higher in the sufentanil group (7/36) as compared to the hydromorphone (0/34) or the morphine group (1/30). The daily opioid consumption pattern showed a continual dose escalation during the first week of therapy for all groups, coincident with worsening mucositis. Morphine consumption reached a plateau by day 5, whereas hydromorphone and sufentanil consumption continued to rise until days 7 and 9, respectively. Sufentanil dose requirement increased by approximately 10-fold compared to morphine and hydromorphone, whose requirements increased only 5-fold, suggesting the possibility of development of acute pharmacological tolerance in some patients with this phenylpiperidine opioid. This study provides support for the recommendation that morphine is the opioid of first choice when patient-controlled analgesia is employed for the treatment of severe oropharyngeal pain in bone marrow transplantation (BMT) patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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