Does adding ketamine to morphine patient-controlled analgesia safely improve post-thoracotomy pain?

Timothy J Mathews, Antonia M D Churchhouse, Tessa Housden, Joel Dunning
Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery 2012, 14 (2): 194-9
A best evidence topic in thoracic surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was 'is the addition of ketamine to morphine patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) following thoracic surgery superior to morphine alone'. Altogether 201 papers were found using the reported search, of which nine represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The authors, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes and results of these papers are tabulated. This consisted of one systematic review of PCA morphine with ketamine (PCA-MK) trials, one meta-analysis of PCA-MK trials, four randomized controlled trials of PCA-MK, one meta-analysis of trials using a variety of peri-operative ketamine regimes and two cohort studies of PCA-MK. Main outcomes measured included pain score rated on visual analogue scale, morphine consumption and incidence of psychotomimetic side effects/hallucination. Two papers reported the measurements of respiratory function. This evidence shows that adding ketamine to morphine PCA is safe, with a reported incidence of hallucination requiring intervention of 2.9%, and a meta-analysis finding an incidence of all central nervous system side effects of 18% compared with 15% with morphine alone, P = 0.31, RR 1.27 with 95% CI (0.8-2.01). All randomized controlled trials of its use following thoracic surgery found no hallucination or psychological side effect. All five studies in thoracic surgery (n = 243) found reduced morphine requirements with PCA-MK. Pain scores were significantly lower in PCA-MK patients in thoracic surgery papers, with one paper additionally reporting increased patient satisfaction. However, no significant improvement was found in a meta-analysis of five papers studying PCA-MK in a variety of surgical settings. Both papers reporting respiratory outcomes found improved oxygen saturations and PaCO(2) levels in PCA-MK patients following thoracic surgery. We conclude that adding low-dose ketamine to morphine PCA is safe and post-thoracotomy may provide better pain control than PCA with morphine alone (PCA-MO), with reduced morphine consumption and possible improvement in respiratory function. These studies thus support the routine use of PCA-MK instead of PCA-MO to improve post-thoracotomy pain control.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"