Objective: To investigate age-related differences in morphine requirements and metabolism in full-term neonates. Design and setting: Randomized double-blind study in the pediatric surgical intensive care unit. Patients: Sixty-eight neonates (52 aged under 7 days, 16 aged 7 day or older) following major surgery. Interventions: After surgery patients were randomly assigned to continuous morphine (10 Mg/kg per hour) or intermittent morphine (30 μg/kg per 3 hours). Additional morphine was administered on guidance of pain scores. Measurements and results: Pain was measured by the Comfort behavioral scale and visual analogue scale. Morphine and morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G) plasma concentrations were determined before and 0, 6, 12, and 24 h after surgery. The younger neonates differed significantly from the older neonates in morphine requirement (median 10 vs. 10.8 μg/kg per hour), morphine plasma concentration [23.0 vs. 15.3 ng/ml), and M6G/morphine ratio (0.6 vs. 1.5). Pain scores did not differ between age groups or morphine treatment groups. Neonates who were mechanically ventilated longer than 24 h had significantly higher morphine plasma concentrations than the spontaneously breathing neonates 12 and 24 h after surgery (29.1 vs. 13.1 ng/ml and 26.9 vs. 12.0 ng/ml, respectively). Morphine plasma concentrations were not correlated with analgesia or respiratory depression. Five neonates (intermittent morphine) showed respiratory insufficiency; however, the difference between the groups was not significant. Conclusions: Neonates aged 7 days or younger require significantly less morphine postoperatively than older neonates. The two morphine regimens (continuous, intermittent) were equally effective and safe. Mechanical ventilation decreases morphine metabolism and clearance.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Full-term neonates, Mechanical ventilation, Morphine, Morphine-6-glucuronide, Pediatric surgery, Postoperative pain management
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00134-003-1899-4, hdl.handle.net/1765/61059
Journal Intensive Care Medicine
Bouwmeester, N.J, Hop, W.C.J, van Dijk, M, Anand, K.J.S, van den Anker, J.N, & Tibboel, D. (2003). Postoperative pain in the neonate: Age-related differences in morphine requirements and metabolism. Intensive Care Medicine, 29(11), 2009–2015. doi:10.1007/s00134-003-1899-4