MORPHIT: an observational study on morphine titration in the postanesthetic care unit in children

Paediatr Anaesth. 2014 Mar;24(3):303-8. doi: 10.1111/pan.12286. Epub 2013 Nov 11.


Background: Little information is available on the titration of morphine postoperatively in children. This observational study describes the technique in terms of the bolus dose, the number of boluses required, the time to establish analgesia, and side effects noted.

Methods: Morphine was administered if pain score (VAS or FLACC) was >30. Patients weighing less than 45 kg received a 50 μg·kg(-1) bolus of morphine with subsequent boluses of 25 μg kg(-1) as required. Patients weighing over 45 kg received boluses of 2 mg. Pain and Ramsay scores were recorded up to 90 min after the end of the titration and any side effect or complication was noted. Data are presented as the median [interquartile Q1-Q3 range].

Results: Overall, 103 children were studied. The median age was 4.2 years [0.8-12.2 years]. The median weight was 15.5 kg [8.2-35.0 kg]. The protocol was effective for pain control with a significant decrease in pain scores over time. The median pain score (VAS or FLACC) was 70 [50-80] prior to the initial bolus and 0 [0-10] 90 min after the last bolus. Median Ramsay score was 1 [1-2] before the initial bolus administration and 4 [2-4] at 90 min. The median total dose of morphine was 100 [70-140] μg·kg(-1) , and the median number of boluses was 3 [2-5]. Side effects were observed in 17% of cases. No serious complications were observed.

Conclusions: Our study of morphine titration for children shows that our protocol was effective for pain control with a significant decrease in pain scores over time. No serious complications were encountered. More studies on larger cohorts of patients are needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of this protocol.

Keywords: IV morphine; children; postoperative pain; postoperative titration.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Morphine / administration & dosage*
  • Morphine / adverse effects
  • Morphine / therapeutic use*
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / prevention & control
  • Recovery Room


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Morphine