Intrathecal morphine combined with intravenous patient-controlled analgesia is an effective and safe method for immediate postoperative pain control in live liver donors

Liver Transpl. 2009 Apr;15(4):381-9. doi: 10.1002/lt.21625.


The healthy condition of living donors makes their tolerance to pain particularly low, and clinicians are often challenged to come up with an analgesic technique that is effective yet ensures donor safety. This study compared, in donor right hepatectomy, the efficacy and safety of preoperative intrathecal morphine (ITM) combined with intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (IV-PCA) with IV-PCA alone. Forty adult patients were randomly allocated into 2 groups: ITM+IV-PCA group (n = 20) and IV-PCA-only group (n = 20). Patients in the ITM+IV-PCA group received morphine sulfate (400 microg). The visual analog scale (VAS) at rest and when coughing and supplementary meperidine and IV-PCA (fentanyl) consumption were assessed at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48 56, 64, and 72 hours after surgery. Also, side effects such as sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, pruritus, and respiratory depression were evaluated. The ITM+IV-PCA group showed significantly less pain at rest and when coughing for up to 30 hours and 24 hours, respectively. Cumulative postoperative consumption of meperidine and IV-PCA (fentanyl) were significantly less in the ITM+IV-PCA group. The incidence of side effects were comparable between the 2 groups except for pruritus; its incidence was significantly higher in the ITM+IV-PCA group during the first 24 hours, but no treatment was required due to its mild severity. The results of our study suggest that preoperative ITM combined with IV-PCA may be considered as an effective and safe pain management regimen in living liver donors who have characteristics of low tolerance to pain and postoperative coagulation derangement.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesia, Patient-Controlled* / adverse effects
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Fentanyl / administration & dosage*
  • Fentanyl / adverse effects
  • Hepatectomy / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Living Donors*
  • Male
  • Meperidine / administration & dosage*
  • Meperidine / adverse effects
  • Morphine / administration & dosage*
  • Morphine / adverse effects
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Morphine
  • Meperidine
  • Fentanyl