Effect of combining naloxone and morphine for intravenous patient-controlled analgesia

James B Sartain, John J Barry, Christopher A Richardson, Helen C Branagan
Anesthesiology 2003, 99 (1): 148-51

BACKGROUND: An early study showed that a naloxone infusion decreased the incidence of morphine-related side effects from intravenous patient-controlled analgesia. The authors tested the hypothesis that a more convenient combination of morphine and naloxone via patient-controlled analgesia would decrease the incidence of side effects compared to morphine alone.

METHODS: Patients scheduled for hysterectomy under general anaesthesia were enrolled in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Patients received a standardized general anesthetic and postoperative patient-controlled analgesia. They were randomized to receive 60 mg patient-controlled analgesia morphine in 30 ml saline or 60 mg morphine in 30 ml saline with naloxone 0.8 mg. Parameters for patient-controlled analgesia were a 1-mg bolus of morphine with a 5-min lockout and no background infusion. Patient recall of nausea, vomiting, itching, and pain (at rest and with movement) were assessed at 6 and 24 h postoperatively by verbal rating score. Pain was also assessed by a 0- to 100-mm visual analog score, and sedation was assessed by an observer. The amount of morphine used and the requirements for symptomatic treatment were also recorded.

RESULTS: Ninety-two patients completed the study, with no significant differences in outcomes between groups. At 24 h, the incidence of nausea was 84.8% in each group; the incidence of pruritus was 56.5% in the naloxone group and 58.7% in the placebo group. There were also no differences in symptomatic treatment requirements, pain scores, morphine use, or sedation between groups. The median dose of naloxone received equated to 0.38 microg x kg-1 x h-1 over 24 h.

CONCLUSIONS: There was no benefit from administering naloxone combined with morphine via patient-controlled analgesia.

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