Elisabeth Bendstrup

Opioids: an unexplored option for treatment of dyspnea in IPF

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BACKGROUND: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is the most common among the idiopathic interstitial pneumonias and has the worst prognosis, with a median survival of 3-5 years. The most common symptom in IPF is dyspnea, impacting on the patient's quality of life and life expectancy. Morphine in the treatment of dyspnea has been investigated but with conflicting results. This review aims to clarify the role of opioids in the treatment of dyspnea in patients with IPF.

METHODS: A literature search was performed using the MeSH and PubMed databases. As only very few studies included patients with IPF, studies conducted primarily with patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were also included. In total, 14 articles were found.

RESULTS: Seven studies reported use of systemic morphine and seven studies of inhaled morphine. Five of the seven studies investigating systemic administration detected an improvement in either dyspnea or exercise capacity, whereas no beneficial effect on dyspnea was detected in any study using inhaled morphine. No severe adverse effects such as respiratory depression were reported in any study, although constipation was reported as a notable adverse effect.

CONCLUSIONS: Results were inconsistent, but in some studies systemic morphine administration showed a significant improvement in the dyspnea score on a visual analog scale without observation of severe side effects. Nebulized morphine had no effect on dyspnea.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Clinical Respiratory Journal
Pages (from-to)30629
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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