Preemptive analgesia by intravenous low-dose ketamine and epidural morphine in gastrectomy: a randomized double-blind study

S Aida, T Yamakura, H Baba, K Taga, S Fukuda, K Shimoji
Anesthesiology 2000, 92 (6): 1624-30

BACKGROUND: Morphine and ketamine may prevent central sensitization during surgery and result in preemptive analgesia. The reliability of preemptive analgesia, however, is controversial.

METHODS: Gastrectomy patients were given preemptive analgesia consisting of epidural morphine, intravenous low-dose ketamine, and combinations of these in a randomized, double-blind manner. Postsurgical pain intensity was rated by a visual analog scale, a categoric pain evaluation, and cumulative morphine consumption.

RESULTS: Preemptive analgesia by epidural morphine and by intravenous low-dose ketamine were significantly effective but not definitive. With epidural morphine, a significant reduction in visual analog scale scores at rest was observed at 24 and 48 h, and morphine consumption was significantly lower at 6 and 12 h, compared with control values. With intravenous ketamine, visual analog scale scores at rest and morphine consumption were significantly lower at 6, 12, 24, and 48 h than those in control subjects. The combination of epidural morphine and intravenous ketamine provided definitive preemptive analgesia: Visual analog scale scores at rest and morphine consumption were significantly the lowest at 6, 12, 24, and 48 h, and the visual analog scale score during movement and the categoric pain score also were significantly the lowest among the groups.

CONCLUSION: The results suggest that for definitive preemptive analgesia, blockade of opioid and N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors is necessary for upper abdominal surgery such as gastrectomy; singly, either treatment provided significant, but not definitive, postsurgical pain relief. Epidural morphine may affect the spinal cord segmentally, whereas intravenous ketamine may block brain stem sensitization via the vagus nerve during upper abdominal surgery.

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