A Background Infusion of Morphine Does Not Enhance Postoperative Analgesia After Cardiac Surgery
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Purpose: To compare the effects of patient-controlled analgesia (PCA), with or without a background infusion of morphine on postoperative pain relief and stress response after cardiac anesthesia. Methods: With University Ethics approval, 35 consenting adults undergoing elective open-heart surgery were randomly assigned preoperatively in a double-blind fashion to receive either morphine PCA alone (Group 1, n = 15) or morphine PCA plus a continuous basal infusion (Group 11, n = 14) for 44 hr postoperatively. Pain scores with visual analogue scale (VAS) at rest, deep inspiration and with cough, sedation scores, stress hormone levels [cortisol, adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and growth hormone (GH)] and morphine consumption were assessed, and serum morphine levels were measured at four, 20, 28 and 44 hr after surgery. Adverse effects including nausea, vomiting, constipation, urinary retention and pruritus were noted. Total blood, fluid requirements, drainage and urinary output were recorded. Results: Postoperative morphine consumption at 44 hr was less in Group 1 (29.43 +/- 12.57 mg) than in Group 11 (50.14 +/- 16.44 mg), P = 0.0006. There was no significant difference between groups in VAS scores, GH levels, blood levels of morphine and adverse effects. While VAS scores, ACTH and GH levels decreased significantly in both groups, plasma cortisol levels increased significantly in Group I only at four hours. In Group 11, ACTH and cortisol were higher at four and 44 hr respectively. Conclusion: PCA with morphine effectively controlled postoperative pain after cardiac surgery. The addition of a background infusion of morphine did not enhance analgesia and increased morphine consumption.