Background: Pain treatment is one of the main concerns of paediatric anaesthesiologists. The purpose of this study was to assess and compare the quality of analgesia and stress suppression by morphine when used [epidural (single shot) (EP) or with intravenous (i.v.) for patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) in children].
Methods: Forty-four children, aged 5–15 years, and who were undergoing major genitourinary or lower abdominal surgery with a standardized general anaesthesia technique, were included in this study. In the EP group (n=24) 0.1 mg·kg–1 morphine in 0.2 ml·kg–1 saline were given epidurally at the L3–4 level and in the PCA group (n=20) 0.1 mg·kg–1 morphine was given i.v. immediately after intubation. Postoperative PCA bolus doses were 0.5 mg for patients weighing less than 20 kg, 1 mg for children weighing 20–30 kg and 1.5 mg for children weighing 30–40 kg. Blood samples were withdrawn following induction and at 1, 8, 12 and 24 h after morphine administration for measurement of blood glucose, insulin, cortisol and morphine levels. Patients were observed for 24 h postoperatively; heart rate, systolic blood pressure, respiratory rate, FACES pain scores, sedation scores and complications were recorded.
Results: The PCA group received 0.56 ± 0.33 mg·kg–1·day–1 morphine. The FACES pain scores, sedation scores, cortisol, blood glucose and insulin levels were similar in both groups. Haemodynamic and respiratory evaluations and cortisol levels were stable but blood glucose and insulin changes at certain time periods were significant (P < 0.05). Serum morphine levels and incidence of vomiting were different between groups (P < 0.05). Serum morphine levels were similar at the first hour.
Conclusions: Both techniques provided sufficient pain relief and attenuated the hormonal response without life-threatening complications.