BMJ 2015 Jun 21;350
Authors: Smith JE et al
To determine whether patient controlled analgesia (PCA) is better than routine care in providing effective analgesia for patients presenting to emergency departments with moderate to severe non-traumatic abdominal pain.
Pragmatic, multicentre, parallel group, randomised controlled trial
Five English hospitals.
200 adults (66% (n=130) female), aged 18 to 75 years, who presented to the emergency department requiring intravenous opioid analgesia for the treatment of moderate to severe non-traumatic abdominal pain and were expected to be admitted to hospital for at least 12 hours.
Patient controlled analgesia or nurse titrated analgesia (treatment as usual).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
The primary outcome was total pain experienced over the 12 hour study period, derived by standardised area under the curve (scaled from 0 to 100) of each participant’s hourly pain scores, captured using a visual analogue scale. Pre-specified secondary outcomes included total morphine use, percentage of study period in moderate or severe pain, percentage of study period asleep, length of hospital stay, and satisfaction with pain management.
196 participants were included in the primary analyses (99 allocated to PCA and 97 to treatment as usual). Mean total pain experienced was 35.3 (SD 25.8) in the PCA group compared with 47.3 (24.7) in the treatment as usual group. The adjusted between group difference was 6.3 (95% confidence interval 0.7 to 11.9). Participants in the PCA group received significantly more morphine (mean 36.1 (SD 22.4) v 23.6 (13.1) mg; mean difference 12.3 (95% confidence interval 7.2 to 17.4) mg), spent less of the study period in moderate or severe pain (32.6% v 46.9%; mean difference 14.5% (5.6% to 23.5%)), and were more likely to be perfectly or very satisfied with the management of their pain (83% (73/88) v 66% (57/87); adjusted odds ratio 2.56 (1.25 to 5.23)) in comparison with participants in the treatment as usual group.
Significant reductions in pain can be achieved by PCA compared with treatment as usual in patients presenting to the emergency department with non-traumatic abdominal pain.