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Management of patients with pain and severe side effects while on intrathecal morphine therapy: A case study

Kehua Zhou, Sen Sheng and Gary G. Wang


Background and aims

The use of intrathecal morphine therapy has been increasing. Intrathecal morphine therapy is deemed the last resort for patients with intractable chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) who failed other treatments including surgery and pharmaceutical interventions. However, effective treatments for patients with CNCP who “failed” this last resort because of severe side effects and lack of optimal pain control remain unclear.

Methods and results

Here we report two successfully managed patients (Ms. S and Mr. T) who had intractable pain and significant complications years after the start of intrathecal morphine therapy. The two patients had intrathecal morphine pump implantation due to chronic consistent pain and multiple failed surgical operations in the spine. Years after morphine pump implantation, both patients had significant chronic pain and compromised function for activities of daily living. Additionally, Ms. S also had four episodes of small bowel obstruction while Mr. T was diagnosed with end stage severe “dementia”. The successful management of these two patients included the simultaneous multidisciplinary approach for pain management, opioids tapering and discontinuation.


The case study indicates that for patients who fail to respond to intrathecal morphine pump therapy due to side effects and lack of optimal pain control, the simultaneous multidisciplinary pain management approach and opioids tapering seem appropriate.

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  1. Conflict of interest: No actual or potential conflict of interest including any financial, personal or other relationships with other people or organizations within three years of beginning the submitted work that could inappropriately influence, or be perceived to influence, their work.


The authors would like to thank Professor Yuan Bo Peng MD, PhD for his valuable input during the manuscript drafting and revision process.


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Received: 2017-04-25
Revised: 2017-06-26
Accepted: 2017-07-05
Published Online: 2017-10-01
Published in Print: 2017-10-01

© 2017 Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain