Intravenous bolus of ultra-low-dose naloxone added to morphine does not enhance analgesia in emergency department patients

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There is some evidence from in vitro, animal, and postoperative clinical studies that low doses of opioid antagonists combined with morphine increase analgesia. The theoretical model of this effect posits that ultra-low doses of opioid antagonists selectively antagonize excitatory, but not inhibitory, opioid receptor-mediated signaling. To determine whether this effect occurs in emergency department patients presenting with severe acute pain, we conducted a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial to assess the relative analgesic effect of morphine administered with 3 different doses of naloxone versus morphine alone. Patients received 0.1 mg/kg morphine intravenously (IV) over 2 min plus one of 3 different doses of naloxone (0.1 ng/kg, 0.01 ng/kg, or 0.001 ng/kg) or normal saline. A 0 to 10 numerical rating scale (NRS) was used to measure pain intensity at baseline and every 30 min up to 4 hours. One hundred fifty-six patients with a median NRS of 10 (IQR: 8-10) were studied. There were no clinically or statistically significant differences in the mean pain intensity of patients in the 4 treatment groups over the 4-hour study period, nor were there differences in the administration of additional analgesics or incidence of side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-81
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006



  • Analgesia
  • Emergency medicine
  • Morphine
  • Naloxone
  • Pain management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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