Narcotic analgesia in the acute abdomen--a review of prospective trials

Eur J Emerg Med. 2001 Jun;8(2):131-6. doi: 10.1097/00063110-200106000-00009.


Withholding administration of narcotic analgesia in patients with acute abdominal pain for fear of masking pathology is still pervasive in current medical practice. We reviewed all the prospective trials that investigated the safety, adverse affects, and ultimate outcome in patients with acute abdominal pain receiving narcotic analgesia within the emergency department (ED). No adverse outcomes or delays in diagnosis could be attributed to the administration of analgesia. Based on this research, we propose that it is safe and humane to administer narcotic pain relief to patients presenting to the ED with acute abdominal pain provided no contraindications exist.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen, Acute / classification
  • Abdomen, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use
  • Diagnostic Errors / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Opium / therapeutic use
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine
  • Morphine
  • Opium