Intrathecal morphine delivered via subcutaneous pump for intractable pain in pancreatic cancer

Holly S. Gilmer-Hill, James E Boggan, Karen A. Smith, Charles F. Frey, Franklin C. Wagner, Larry J. Hein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Pain secondary to unresectable pancreatic cancer is frequently severe and extremely difficult to control with traditional methods of analgesia. This retrospective study reports the analgesic effects of intrathecal morphine sulfate by implanted infusion pumps in nine patients with unresectable adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. METHODS Nine patients were implanted over a 2-year period. Preoperative morphine IV equivalents were a mean of 81.51 rag/day, with a range of 20-140 mg/day. Patients were hospitalized for a trial dose of 1-2 mg of intrathecal Duramorph, 1 mg/ml, via lumbar puncture to assess whether adequate pain relief could be achieved and whether there would be drug-related side effects. RESULTS All patients who received a trial dose experienced excellent pain relief, and subsequently underwent implantation of a lumbar subarachnoid catheter and infusion pump during the same hospitalization. The mean number of days from diagnosis to pump implant was 119, with a range of 3-587 days. The mean maximum daily dose was 21.28 rag, with a range of 3-73.10 mg. No patient experienced respiratory depression or excess sedation which prevented achievement of pain control. Minor supplemental narcotic use was documented in three of the nine patients. Assessment of pain control was made by the level of activity and the analog pain scale, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain imaginable. All of the patients experienced good to excellent relief of pain. The mean duration of intrathecal morphine sulfate use until death was 137.3 days, with a range of 52-354 days. CONCLUSIONS This series of nine patients indicates that long-term administration of intrathecal morphine via implanted infusion pump in patients with pancreatic cancer is both efficacious and safe. All patients and their families reported an improved quality of life with an increased level of activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-11
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999


  • Intrathecal
  • Morphine
  • Pain
  • Pancreatic cancer.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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