Nielsen, B.N., Aagaard, G., Henneberg, S.W., Schmiegelow, K., Hansen, S.H., & Romsing, J. (2012). Topical morphine for oral mucositis in children: Dose finding and absorption. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 44(1), 117–123.doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2011.06.029
To investigate the dose-response relationship of topical morphine and pain in pediatric cancer patients with oral mucositis; to investigate, after topical morphine administration, the plasma levels of morphine and metabolites
The sample included 12 children receiving treatment for chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis. Seven patients were in the dose-response study and five were in the absorption group.
Both groups received oral morphine for pain relief. All children in the study received an oral solution containing morphine hydrochloride, 1 or 2 mg/ml, administered as a spray by means of an atomizer. The child was then to retain the solution in the mouth for 10 seconds before spitting out the solution. All children in the study also received 10‐15 mg/kg acetaminophen every 6 hours. Supplemental analgesics were allowed in the study either by patient-controlled analgesia pump or intravenously.
Prospective observational sequential study
In the dose-response group, the morphine mouthwash was associated with a decrease of at least 36% in the oral pain score of six of seven patients. Thirty minutes after topical doses of 0.25–0.4 mg/kg morphine, pain decreased by approximately 36%. The absorption study reported concentrations of morphine and metabolites well below effective analgesic levels; authors reported no increase in plasma concentration of morphine.
The extremely small sample size prevents applying study results to the pediatric population of patients diagnosed with oral mucositis. Further research should investigate the reliability of these findings.
The evidence from this study is insufficient to allow researchers to draw conclusions about the effect of topical morphine on the pain associated with oral mucositis. However, oral analgesics such as morphine could be effective supplements, causing few side effects, to established treatments. More research is needed.