Pain management in the pediatric population is complex for many reasons. Mild pain is usually managed quite well with oral acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Situations involving more severe pain often require the use of an opioid, which may be administered by many different routes, depending on clinical necessity.
Although there has been significant progress in the understanding of opioid pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in neonates, infants, children, and adolescents, somewhat limited data exist from which necessary information, concerning the safe and effective use of these agents, may be drawn. The evidence here provided is intended to be helpful in directing the practitioner to patient-specific reasons for preferring one opioid over another. As our knowledge of opioids and their effects has grown, it has become clear that older medications like codeine and meperidine (pethidine) have very limited use in pediatrics. This review provides pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evidence on the currently available opioids: morphine, fentanyl (and derivatives), codeine, meperidine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, buprenorphine, butorphanol, nalbuphine, pentazocin, ketobemidone, tramadol, piritramide, naloxone and naltrexone. Morphine, being the most studied opioid analgesic, is the standard against which all others are compared.

Authors : James C Thigpen1, Brian L Odle1, Sam Harirforoosh2
1Department of Pharmacy Practice, Gatton College of Pharmacy, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, USA.
2Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Gatton College of Pharmacy, East Tennessee State University, Box 70594, Johnson City, TN, 37614-1708, USA.


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