Epidural morphine for analgesia after caesarean section: a report of 4880 patients

Can J Anaesth. 1990 Sep;37(6):636-40. doi: 10.1007/BF03006481.


This retrospective study was undertaken to assess the efficacy and safety of epidural morphine in providing analgesia following Caesarean section under epidural anaesthesia. The morphine was administered as a single bolus, following delivery, in doses ranging from 2 to 5 mg. The charts of 4880 Caesarean sections, performed on 4500 patients, were reviewed. The duration of analgesia and the occurrence of any symptoms which might be side-effects of the epidural morphine were recorded. The duration of analgesia was 22.9 +/- 10.1 hr and was not correlated with the dose of epidural morphine. Eleven per cent of the patients required no supplemental analgesia during the first 48 hr. Twelve patients (0.25 per cent) had respiratory rates less than 10 breaths per minute, on at least one occasion. No serious sequelae resulted from these periods of bradypnoea. Pruritus occurred in 58 per cent of patients, nausea and vomiting in 39.9 per cent and dizziness in ten per cent. Herpes simplex labialis was recorded in 3.5 per cent of patients. Epidural morphine is thus confirmed as an effective analgesic technique post-Caesarean section with 3 mg being the optimal dose. Even in this young healthy patient population, clinically detectable respiratory depression occurs so clinical respiratory monitoring is indicated.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Analgesia, Epidural*
  • Anesthesia, Epidural
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects*
  • Dizziness / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Morphine / administration & dosage
  • Morphine / adverse effects
  • Morphine / therapeutic use*
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / chemically induced
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Vomiting / chemically induced


  • Acetaminophen
  • Morphine