Epidural morphine for postoperative pain relief in children

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 1993 Oct;37(7):664-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.1993.tb03785.x.


Epidural morphine for postoperative pain relief is in general use, and has proved to be very efficient in adults. The epidural technique and the use of epidural morphine are much less frequent in children. For 2 years we have prospectively followed 76 children who had epidural morphine for postoperative pain relief after major abdominal surgery. The age distribution was from newborn to 13 years, with a median age of 12 months. It was estimated that 94% of the patients had good analgesia for the first 24 postoperative hours and no other opioids were given. The side effects were few, but one case of respiratory depression was seen and 20% of the children had pruritus. There were four dural punctures and three catheters slipped out accidentally, but otherwise the treatment was continued as long as it was considered necessary (1-11 days). The use of postoperative ventilatory support decreased during the investigation. We observed a change in the sleeping pattern with an increased number of sleep-induced myoclonia during the administration of epidural morphine. In conclusion, the use of epidural morphine in children for postoperative pain relief is very efficient. The minimal effective dose has not been established as yet, but 50 micrograms/kg every 8 h, supplemented with small doses of bupivacaine, provides excellent analgesia in the immediate postoperative period after major abdominal surgery. The side effects are few, but the risk of respiratory depression is always present and observation in the intensive care unit or recovery for the first 24 h is strongly recommended.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesia, Epidural* / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression, Chemical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Morphine* / adverse effects
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pruritus / chemically induced
  • Respiration / drug effects


  • Morphine