Postoperative Analgesia: Use of Intrathecal Morphine in Children

Joseph D. Tobias, Jayant K. Deshpande, Randall C. Wetzel, James Facker, Lynne G. Maxwell, Maurizio Solca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The identification of opiate receptors in the spinal cord gave rise to the suggestion that the use of intrathecal and epidural narcotics may provide effective and safe postoperative analgesia. The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of ten children who received intrathecal morphine as part of their anesthetic care over the last 2 years. Preservative-free morphine (Duramorph®) in a dose of 0.02 mg/kg was administered to all patients in the lumbar intrathecal space before the start of the surgical procedure. Adequate postoperative analgesia was achieved in the ten children. No patient required supplemental analgesic agents for the initial 15-hour postoperative period. Surgical procedures included exploratory laparotomy, laryngotracheoplasty, and craniofacial reconstruction. As with narcotics administered by any route, intrathecal morphine can cause respiratory depression, and such depression may be delayed for up to 24 hours after the dose. Therefore, the postoperative respiratory status of these children should be monitored for 24 hours after the dose, preferably in an intensive care unit. With this caveat, the use of intrathecal morphine provides safe and effective postoperative analgesia in children undergoing major surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-48
Number of pages5
JournalClinical pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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