The effects of a small-dose naloxone infusion on opioid-induced side effects and analgesia in children and adolescents treated with intravenous patient-controlled analgesia: A double-blind, prospective, randomized, controlled study

Lynne G. Maxwell, Sandra C. Kaufmann, Sally Bitzer, Eric V. Jackson, John McGready, Sabine Kost-Byerly, Lori Kozlowski, Sharon K. Rothman, Myron Yaster

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Opioids are frequently associated with side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and pruritus. We hypothesized that a prophylactic, continuous small-dose naloxone infusion would reduce the incidence of opioid-induced side effects without affecting analgesia or opioid consumption. In this prospective, double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial, we studied 46 postoperative patients (M:F, 21:25), averaging 14 ± 2.5 yr and 53 ± 17 kg, at the start of morphine IV patient-controlled analgesia. Patients were randomized to either saline (control, n = 26) or naloxone 0.25 μg · kg -1 · h-1 (n = 20). We found that the incidence and severity of pruritus (77% versus 20%; P < 0.05) and nausea (70% versus 35%; P < 0.05) was significantly more frequent in the placebo group compared with the naloxone group. Morphine consumption (1.02 ± 0.41 mg · kg -1 · d-1 versus 1.28 ± 0.61 mg · kg-1 · d-1), pain scores at rest (4 ± 2 versus 3 ± 2), and pain scores with coughing (6 ± 2 versus 6 ± 2) were not different. We conclude that, in children and adolescents, a small-dose naloxone infusion (0.25 μg · kg-1 · h-1) can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of opioid-induced side effects without affecting opioid-induced analgesia. When initiating morphine IV patient-controlled analgesia for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, clinicians should strongly consider starting a concomitant small-dose naloxone infusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-958
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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