Dose-response relationship of intrathecal morphine for postcesarean analgesia

Anesthesiology. 1999 Feb;90(2):437-44. doi: 10.1097/00000542-199902000-00018.


Background: This series investigated the quality of analgesia and the incidence and severity of side effects of intrathecal morphine for post-cesarean analgesia administered over a dose range of 0.0-0.5 mg.

Methods: ONE hundred eight term parturients undergoing cesarean delivery at term and given spinal anesthesia were randomized to receive a single dose of intrathecal morphine (0.0, 0.025, 0.05, 0.075, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, or 0.5 mg). A patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) device provided free access to additional analgesics. PCA morphine use, incidence and severity of side effects, and need for treatment interventions were recorded for 24 h. Data were analyzed with analysis of variance and linear regression analysis for trends among groups.

Results: Patient-controlled analgesia use differed significantly between groups; PCA use was higher in the control group than in groups receiving 0.075, 0.1, 0.3, 0.4, or 0.5 mg. Twenty-four-hour PCA morphine use was 45.7 mg lower (95% CI, 4.8-86.6 mg lower) in the 0.075-mg group than the control group. There was no difference in PCA morphine use between the 0.075- and 0.5-mg groups (95% CI, 36.8 mg lower to 45.0 mg higher); despite a fivefold increase in intrathecal morphine dose, PCA morphine use remained constant. There was no difference between control and treatment groups or among treatment groups with respect to nausea and vomiting. Pruritus and the need for treatment interventions increased in direct proportion to the dose of intrathecal morphine (linear regression, P = 0.001 and P = 0.0002, respectively).

Conclusions: These data indicate there is little justification for use of more than 0.1 mg for post-cesarean analgesia. For optimal analgesia, augmentation [corrected] of intrathecal morphine with systemic opioids may be necessary.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Anesthesia, Spinal*
  • Cesarean Section*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Morphine / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnancy


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Morphine