Effects of low-dose naloxone on opioid therapy in pediatric patients: A retrospective case-control study
Objective: To develop novel therapies that prevent opioid tolerance in critically ill children we examined the effects of low-dose naloxone infusions on patients' needs for analgesia or sedation. Design and setting: Matched case-control study in a pediatric intensive care unit at a university children's hospital. Patients: We compared 14 pediatric ICU patients receiving low-dose naloxone and opioid infusions with 12 matched controls receiving opioid infusions. Measurements and main results: Opioid analgesia and sedative requirements were assessed as morphine- and midazolam-equivalent doses, respectively. No differences were observed between groups in opioid doses at baseline or during naloxone, but in the postnaloxone period opioid doses tended to be lower in the naloxone group. Compared to baseline the naloxone group required more opioids during naloxone but fewer opioids after naloxone. Total sedative doses were comparable at baseline in both groups, with no differences in the postnaloxone period. The naloxone group required less sedation after naloxone but sedation doses were unchanged in controls. The two groups did not differ in pain scores, sedation scores, or opioid side effects. Conclusions: Naloxone did not reduce the need for opioid during the infusion period but tended to reduce opioid requirements in the postnaloxone period without additional need for sedation. Randomized clinical trials may examine the effects of low-dose naloxone on opioid tolerance and side effects in pediatric ICU patients requiring prolonged opioid analgesia.