Efficacy and safety of nebulized morphine given at 2 different doses compared to IV titrated morphine in trauma pain

Am J Emerg Med. 2015 Nov;33(11):1557-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2015.06.014. Epub 2015 Jun 14.


Background: Our aim was to compare the efficacy and safety of intravenous (IV) titrated morphine with nebulized morphine given at 2 different doses in severe traumatic pain.

Methods: In a prospective, randomized, controlled double-blind study, we included 300 patients with severe traumatic pain. They were assigned to 3 groups: Neb10 group received 1 nebulization of 10-mg morphine; Neb20 group received 1 nebulization of 20-mg morphine, repeated every 10 minutes with a maximum of 3 nebulizations; and the IV morphine group received 2-mg IV morphine repeated every 5 minutes until pain relief. Visual analog scale was monitored at baseline, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 60 minutes after the start of drug administration. Treatment success was defined by the percentage of patients in whom visual analog scale decreased greater than or equal to 50% of its baseline value. When this end point was not reached, rescue morphine was administered. Pain resolution time was defined by the elapsed time between the start of the protocol and the reach of treatment success criteria.

Results: Success rate was significantly better at 97% (95% confidence interval [CI], 93-100) for Neb20 group compared to Neb10 group (81% [95% CI, 73-89]) and IV morphine group (79% [95% CI, 67-84]). The lowest resolution time was observed in Neb20 group (20 minutes [95% CI, 18-21]). Side effects were minor and significantly lower in both nebulization groups compared to IV morphine group.

Conclusions: Nebulized morphine using boluses of 10 mg has similar efficacy and better safety than IV titrated morphine in patients with severe posttraumatic pain. Increasing nebulized boluses to 20 mg increases the effectiveness without increasing side effects.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02200185.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morphine / administration & dosage*
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Morphine

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02200185