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Intranasal diamorphine for acute sickle cell pain


The painful crisis is the commonest acute presentation of sickle cell disease (SCD), yet effective pain control in hospital is often delayed, inadequate and dependent on injected opiates. Intranasal diamorphine (IND) has been used in paediatric emergency departments for management of acute pain associated with fractures, but the analgesic effect is short lived. We evaluated its efficacy and safety when given in combination with intravenous or oral morphine for rapid analgesia for children presenting to our emergency department with painful crisis of SCD. In phase 1, nine patients received IND plus intravenous morphine. In phase 2, 13 received IND plus oral morphine. There was a rapid improvement in pain score; the proportions in severe pain at t = 0, 15, 30 and 120 minutes in phase 1 were 78%, 11%, 0% and 11%, respectively; in phase 2, 77%, 30%, 15% and 0%, respectively. There were no serious side effects and questionnaire scores indicated that children found IND effective and acceptable. IND can be recommended for acute control of sickle pain in children presenting to hospital.

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