Pain management in 100 episodes of severe mucositis in children

Michelle C White, Clare Hommers, Sarah Parry, Peter A Stoddart
Paediatric Anaesthesia 2011, 21 (4): 411-6

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to review the pain management in 100 episodes of severe mucositis in children and determine the incidence of associated side effects.

BACKGROUND: Mucositis is a painful, debilitating condition affecting the alimentary mucosa and occurs following many anticancer treatments. Severe pain associated with mucositis may necessitate reductions, delays or termination of anticancer therapy and so intravenous morphine, preferably by patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) is the treatment of choice.

METHODS: Retrospective review of consecutive episodes of mucositis in children requiring intravenous opioid analgesia over a 3-year period (May 2006-April 2009).

RESULTS: In 24/92 (26%) of cases, morphine PCA provided insufficient pain relief and children required adjuvant ketamine therapy. These children had rapidly increasing morphine requirements approaching 1000 mcg/kg/day by day 2 (more than double compared with children on morphine alone), were more likely to be female, and tended to be older (median [IQR] age 12 [6-12] years vs 7 [3-14] years). The addition of ketamine to the morphine PCA appears to be associated with reduced morphine consumption, improved pain scores, causing minimal side effects and no hallucinations.

CONCLUSIONS: Children with severe mucositis who have escalating morphine requirements may benefit from the addition of ketamine to their morphine PCA.

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