Intravenous morphine for emergency treatment of cancer pain


Intravenous morphine for emergency treatment of cancer pain


Kumar KS; Rajagopal MR; Naseema AM


Palliative Medicine




Female; Male; Palliative Care; Adult; Analgesics; Aged; 80 and over; retrospective studies; Infusions; Intravenous; Human; Developing Countries; Adolescence; Middle Age; Neoplasms/complications; Morphine/administration & dosage/adverse effects; Emergency Treatment; India; Opioid/administration & dosage/adverse effects; Pain/drug therapy/prevention & control


Despite the wide use of the World Health Organization (WHO) analgesic ladder for the relief of cancer pain, it is not uncommon to find patients presenting with severe pain to palliative care centres. This is more so in the developing world, where facilities for pain relief are few and the health care system is not well organized. It has been the practice in a pain and palliative care clinic in south India to give repeated boluses of 1.5 mg of morphine intravenously every 10 min to patients presenting with severe pain. An audit of the procedure was undertaken by a retrospective study of 793 case notes. Seventy-nine per cent of patients had total relief of their pain with intravenous morphine. Three per cent of patients experienced side-effects during the procedure. These included nausea and vomiting, itching, giddiness, restlessness, dyspnoea, chest pain, disorientation and a feeling of uneasiness. Thirty-two per cent of patients had drowsiness, which was one of the end-points of the procedure. It is concluded that intravenous morphine in repeated boluses of 1.5 mg every 10 min is a safe and effective method of managing cancer pain emergencies in a clinical setting in a developing country.


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Kumar KS; Rajagopal MR; Naseema AM, “Intravenous morphine for emergency treatment of cancer pain,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed December 9, 2023,