Dexmedetomidine as an Option for Opioid Refractory Pain in the Hospice Setting.

08:00 EDT 13th June 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Dexmedetomidine as an Option for Opioid Refractory Pain in the Hospice Setting."

Opioid refractory pain is a common problem in pain management. Dexmedetomidine is suggested to have opioid-sparing effects, with well-described use in surgical and intensive care unit settings. Some authors advocate its benefit in reducing delirium. Its effects are thought to be exhibited through agonism of pre- and postsynpatic α-receptors in the central nervous system. It is more selective on α-receptors than clonidine, accounting for its relatively lower incidence of hypotension. Its use in sedation is favored because it does not depress the respiratory system. The main side effects reported include bradycardia. Twenty-eight-year-old woman with triple negative left breast cancer and a locally destructive tumor was admitted to hospice after exhausting her disease-directed therapy options. Her chief complaint was a throbbing, burning pain to the left chest wall, lower back, and bilateral lower extremities, rated 8/10 on a 10-point verbal scale. Multiple pharmacologic agents for pain, including patient-controlled analgesia infusions with adjuvant methadone and steroids, had failed to provide consistent pain management. Symptoms were difficult to control in the home setting, and she required multiple admissions to our inpatient hospice unit for pain management. She also developed episodes of delirium shortly after hospice admission. We attributed her symptoms to rapid disease progression. After failed pain control with opioids, ketamine, and lidocaine, we trialed a dexmedetomidine infusion. While on the infusion, her pain rating decreased to 0/10 and she had no delirium. Pain recurred soon after cessation of the infusion, initially rated 6/10. Dexmedetomidine is safe for opioid refractory pain in the hospice inpatient setting. However, its effects may not be sustained. There is potential for use in end-of-life care, with added benefit for possible control of delirium.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Journal of palliative medicine
ISSN: 1557-7740


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